Visitors at the Oro Loma Sanitary District headquarters, look at a container of biocatalysts that have been pulled out of the bioreactor tank.
Visitors at the Oro Loma Sanitary District headquarters, look at a container of biocatalysts that have been pulled out of the bioreactor tank.

The Oro Loma Sanitary District in San Lorenzo, California, has partnered with green technology company, Microvi Biotech, Inc. and wastewater specialists, WesTech Engineering, Inc. to showcase a large-scale demonstration of the Microvi MNE solution for Oro Loma’s wastewater treatment plant. 

The Microvi technology uses novel biocatalytic composites (biocatalysts) that intensify biological processes, while maintaining a controlled population of targeted microorganisms at a much higher density than existing technologies.  Despite the complexity of the MNE biocatalysts themselves, the design and operation of the systems are simple. Microvi’s technologies have been implemented in the US, Australia and the UK for drinking water, municipal wastewater, and industrial applications. 

The demonstration’s primary objective was to tackle increased nitrogen discharge limits that are expected to be implemented over the next decade in the San Francisco Bay Area. The district is using the demonstration to proactively evaluate cost-effective new technologies to meet these projected effluent limits, possibly as low as <6 mg/L total nitrogen (TN).

Installed in April 2018, results from the demonstration show that the combined nitrification-denitrification process can achieve effluent levels consistently below 3 mg/L and even as low as 1 mg/L TN from influent ammonia (NH3) concentrations as high as 45 mg/L. These results occur with a retention time of under two hours, and little to no biosolids are produced. This result is unprecedented, compared to other available technologies for nitrification. The next phase of the Oro Loma demonstration will focus on side-stream treatment of ammonia concentrations as high as 500 mg/L.

Jason Warner, general manager of Oro Loma, said, “Microvi’s technology is compelling because it allows us to meet potential future nitrogen limits while making the most of our existing treatment facilities at Oro Loma.  We need to find solutions to make existing facilities meet our future needs.”

Dr. Fatemeh Shirazi, CEO and CTO of Microvi, said that Oro Loma was a great partner for Microvi and WesTech and allowed the company to showcase the power of its MicroNiche Engineering (MNE) technology.