The core technology, Molecular Kinetics, combines biologically active proteins, produced by a hybrid fermentation process, micronutrients, enzymatic cofactors and surface-active agents in a proprietary formulation. The mode of action for the formulation does not require a direct chemical reaction between the active ingredients of the formulation and the organic contaminants, rather the synergism of the individual components leads to a product effectively promoting the biostimulation (bioactivation) of indigenous micro-organisms.
Research data suggest that the ‘stimulatory’ effect is partly caused by a process similar in nature to the ‘uncoupling’ of the microbial metabolic pathways. Laboratory experiments demonstrated that the formulation not only amplifies the metabolic rate of organic carbon degradation, as indicated by the accelerated reduction of total organic carbon (TOC) and increased oxygen uptake rate (OUR), but also lowers the amount of biomass. The carbon mass balance shown in Figure 1, demonstrates how this accelerates the metabolism of organic carbon without a concomitant increase in biomass production compared to the control. The excess carbon metabolised with the treated sample was off-gassed in the form of CO2 rather than being converted to biomass or biofilm. These observations were confirmed in field trials, where feeding the formulation into the inlet stream of municipal and industrial wastewater facilities led to a decrease of biological oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS), and an increase of dissolved oxygen (D.O.).
Nutrient metabolism without a concomitant increase of biomass can be achieved by uncoupling biochemical degradation (catabolism) from biochemical synthesis (anabolism). Uncoupling can occur during the oxidative phosphorylation resulting in lower adenosine triphosphate (ATP) formation, or by dissipating generated ATP through ‘energy spilling’ (Russel and Cook, 1995). Low and Chase (1998) demonstrated the use of chemical uncouplers for reducing biomass production during biodegradation by adding various levels of para-Nitrophenol (pNP) to a monoculture of Pseudomonas putida. These studies demonstrated:
- The addition of the organic protonphore pNP reduced biomass production and increased the specific substrate uptake rate.
- When there was reduced energy availability as a result of uncoupling by pNP, cells satisfied their maintenance energy requirements (membrane potential, motility, etc.) prior to providing energy for growth (protein, DNA synthesis etc.).
High costs associated with the use of synthetic uncouplers for wastewater treatment have been at least partly responsible, why this approach has not found widespread application.
Decreasing the ATP available for biosynthesis, reduces the growth rate of bacteria and therefore the amount of biomass or sludge. If microorganisms exhibit a similar behaviour to mitochondria in their metabolic regulation, a reduction of cellular ATP would provide a stimulus to the feedback control loop, promoting further catabolism of organic material in order to compensate the ‘ATP-starvation’. If use of the formula is discontinued, the bacteria revert to their normal respiration/metabolic rate.
Molecular Kinetics affects the rate at which the biomass utilises oxygen. As a rule of thumb, 6 kilograms of BOD will require 10 kilograms of oxygen. The use of this formula does not change that fact. However, laboratory and field data demonstrate that it does improve the oxygen uptake/oxygen utilisation rates of the biomass. This might be in part due to an improved oxygen transfer rate, caused by the formulations reduction of the critical micelle concentration (CMC). A more efficient use of the available oxygen and a reduction of oxygen adsorbing soluble and non-soluble carbon, will lead to increased D.O. levels and inevitably to a decreased aeration power consumption.
The degree to which the MK formulation facilitates the metabolism of the carbon source is not dependent on the type of carbon source (e.g. carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc.), but rather the availability of the carbon source. Therefore, if the carbon source is readily available to the bacteria and all other environmental conditions, i.e. temperature, pH, electron acceptor are conducive to microbial metabolism, the formulation will greatly accelerate the degradation of contaminants such as grease and oil, over what would be seen in its absence.
The product functions well in aerobic municipal and industrial wastewater treatment systems, as well as in wet wells and gravity sewer lines where there is oxygen available in the headspace and turbulence to facilitate oxygen transfer. Formed byproducts are those that would be naturally produced by indigenous bacteria, with or without the introduction of the formulation, that is; biomass, CO2, water and inorganic salts.
The formulation is non-toxic and completely biodegradable. It has been cleared by the USDA for the usage in food processing facilities.