Drains and plumbing piping are designed to transport used water to the sewer system.
In many cases, these drains and pipes receive wastewater constituents that accumulate in the drainage/plumbing system.
- Semi-soluble Organics – such as fats, oils, greases
- Insoluble Particulates – such as hair, paper and food particles
These materials can collect on the walls of the drains and in the traps designed into the system and can cause blockages and odors. These problems can be treated biologically using bioaugmentation.
Bacteria degrade compounds by producing very specific enzymes. Bacteria are extremely efficient “enzyme factories”. They recognize the organics present in an environment and respond by producing the enzymes required to degrade those specific organics. The breakdown of grease is a complicated process in which each step requires a specific enzyme. For example, a triglyceride is initially cleaved by lipase into a glycerol and three fatty acids. The glycerol and each fatty acid is then broken into smaller and smaller components by specific enzymes until eventually these compounds are reduced to carbon dioxide and water. The enzymes act as catalysts, speeding the breakdown reaction without being consumed in the process.
A consortium of bacteria, rather than a single strain, is most effective in breaking down grease and other complex mixtures of wastes.
Due to the insolubility of grease, microorganisms degrade grease by acting at the grease/water interface. Bacteria themselves may produce biosurfactants that assist in the degradation by making the grease more available to the bacteria for decomposition. Microbes tend to collect at the surface of grease and oil due to the oil-loving nature of the cell wall and due to a property termed “chemotaxis”.
Chemotaxis is the ability whereby bacteria recognize compounds as food sources and, if the bacteria are motile, move in the direction of that food source. Bacteria increase contact with particulate food sources by the production of extracellular polymers that allow bacteria to adhere to surfaces such as grease, oil, scum, debris and walls of traps and pipes. Once attached, the organisms produce enzymes to break down grease globules and particulate matter into molecules small enough to be transported into the bacterial cell to be broken into progressively smaller molecules.
A consortium of bacteria, rather than a single strain, is most effective in breaking down grease and other complex mixtures of wastes. A synergistic blend of selectively adapted microorganisms added to the indigenous population increases the speed and scope of degradation.
Each time the grease is broken down into smaller molecules, the bacterium gain energy. This energy is used to produce more enzymes and more cell growth. Attached microorganisms continue to grow and reproduce. Some new cells are released into the liquid stream while others further colonize the biofilm.