- Isolate candidate microbes from environmental isolates, waste samples, or culture collections.
- Screen to ensure the candidates are non-pathogenic and classified as Bio Safety Level 1 organisms.
- Determine range of environmental conditions in which the strains grow. For example - pH, temperature, anaerobic growth, and nitrate/nitrite utilization.
- Growth on target organics and production of beneficial metabolites – this is where we see if it degrades problem compounds and forms desirable biofilm/floc. We aim to select the strains with best degradation capabilities and shortest-doubling time.
- Investigate the strain ability to be grown in industrial fermentation processes.
- Can the strain be preserved in shelf-stable forms. And conduct long term storage shelf life testing.
- Testing to ensure compatibility with other strains in the consortia.
- Lab testing on waste samples and compare growth to existing strains.
- Field testing to ensure lab results holdup in the real world environment.
- Introduce the new product.
Creating an effective bioaugmentation product (bugs) for use in wastewater systems in a multiple step process that involves screening multiple candidates and creating a decision matrix before selecting the ideal candidate for inclusion into a formulation. We spend significant amounts of time characterizing strains for environmental growth conditions and degradation capabilities. Additionally, complexities arise when you make a product with both spore forming and vegetative strains. In fact, many companies limit their product to spore forming microbes even if that means losing an large amount of metabolic diversity. Below, I have outlined the R&D process we use at Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com).
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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