<< Return to News

Resolving Toxic Upsets: Quats in Wastewater

Earlier in this article series, we touched on how bioaugmentation treatments for wastewater have been around for 50+ years to help resolve toxic upsets. We also explored how Bacillus, a certain genus of bacteria that can be used in microbial treatments, are resilient to oxidizers.

Today, we’ll examine how Bacillus are resistant to another powerful but non-oxidizing anti-microbial: Quats.

What are Quats?

Quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC, also referred to as “Quats”) are potent disinfectant ingredients found in both household and industrial cleaners. Some common examples are benzalkonium chlorides (BAC, BZK, BKC), alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (ADBAC) and several other compounds identified by the words ‘ammonium chloride’ at the end of their names.

How Quats Work

Quats kill bacteria by puncturing or disorganizing the cell membrane, leading to interior component leakage and ultimately cell death. The use of Quats is especially common in food processing plants as tools for combating bacterial growth and contamination in the end-product. While this is effective for facility sanitization, it can potentially lead to problems in wastewater systems as they depend upon their inherent microbial community to function properly.

Effects of Quats in Wastewater

When a toxic substance like a Quat enters a wastewater system, it can drastically alter the microbial community, having a potentially major negative impact on the entire system. The main job of bacteria in wastewater is to digest organic material and remove it from the water. If a large portion of the bacterial population is wiped out by Quats, it can dramatically slow treatment, leading to disfunction and costly recovery expenses.

Resolving Toxic Upsets

To help resolve toxic upsets, wastewater facilities can treat their systems through bioaugmentation with Bacillus. Some Bacillus strains can survive high levels of Quats as well as degrade some quats into less toxic compounds. Additionally, some Bacillus can produce an enzyme called amine oxalase that gives them the ability to cleave Quats into smaller compounds with a much lower level of toxicity. The whole microbial community is involved in getting the wastewater environment back to where it was prior to an upset and the presence of Bacillus can give the system the kickstart it needs.

The below experiment (Figure 1) illustrates the recovery that’s possible with our Bacillus-based treatment Biotifx®. In the untreated wastewater sample containing Quats, the microbial community struggled to grow. The Biotifx treated community recovered quickly resulting in minimal performance interruption.

Figure 1: Bacterial growth in wastewater challenged with varying levels of Quats with and without Biotifx treatment.

For more information about our Biotifx products and distribution program, contact us and one of our wastewater experts will reach out to you.

Search Insights
Recently Posted Insights

The Importance of Strain Purity Testing in Custom Fermentation

At MDG, we are Bacillus experts with over 20 years of experience growing pure cultures for our customers. We are continually honing our methods to find the most effective, efficient way to create quality microbial ingredients, and one contributing factor is purity...

A Guide to Wastewater Success: People, Products, and Programs

Working in the wastewater treatment industry comes with its challenges. Your customers may face problems like sludge buildup, odors, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) production, and fats, oils, and grease (FOG) accumulation. As their supplier, you need a solution you can count...

The Commercialization of Microbial Solutions

As a Bacillus manufacturer, we work to grow our partners’ pure single-strain Bacillus cultures and scale the process so that they receive exactly what they need. Our success in the commercialization of microbial solutions comes from our trusted process and our...

How to Handle Odors Within Septic Systems After Spring Thaw

Spring’s warmer weather and longer days are always welcome after a cold winter, but for septic tank owners and operators, this seasonal transition can bring a significant problem: odors. Now that spring thaw has occurred and the heat of summer is setting in, septic...

In-Field and In-House Expertise in Wastewater Treatment

When your wastewater customers are facing challenges, you want a partner with proven success and extensive expertise in wastewater treatment. At Microbial Discovery Group, we can be that partner. MDG stands as a leading expert in bioaugmentation, holding in-field and...

2024 EXPANSION: CONTINUED GROWTH AT MDG

Since the completion of our Oak Creek facility in the fall of 2022, we have steadily grown our capacities and capabilities as a trusted provider of Bacillus-based solutions. We are excited to announce that our growth has given us the opportunity to expand our...

Upcoming Webinar: Creating Quality Microbial Products

Producing high-quality microbial products for industrial, institutional, and consumer applications is essential for our partners. In our upcoming webinar, we will explore the critical aspects of microbial product development and how we ensure quality products for your...

Proven Success Treating Sludge with Biotifx®

If your customers are working in the biological wastewater treatment industry, chances are they’re dealing with the challenges of organic sludge. Sludge, the waste components left over after the wastewater has been treated, is a constant expense for facilities, and...

Related News