An additive for oxygen-based processing of sludge may be useful in specific cases in lowering the environmental impact of wastewater treatment for the meat and dairy industries, according to a Spanish company which has just joined the EU co-funded WASTERED project, which aims to optimize waste reduction in the European meat and dairy industry.

Jose Luis Bribián Fisac, head of sales at wastewater treatment company Bioazul, based in Málaga, Spain, says Bioazul’s LODOred, a new wastewater treatment additive, has been tested in around 50 wastewater treatments plants in Spain, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Italy. Although it was invented for sewage sludge, the company is now trying to open up a new market in the meat and dairy industry. (“Lodo” is the Spanish word for “sludge” and “red” stands for its reduction.)

The additive is biodegradable and therefore can be released onto activated sludge that undergoes an aerobic digestion to degrade its biological content. It works by encapsulating what are called flocs of bacteria. First, the gelatinous floc layer removes minerals and particulate from the wastewater, improving the sedimentation of the sludge. Next, encapsulation increases the level of degradation as microorganisms’ metabolism is manipulated by specially designed enzymes and vitamins.

The additive also generates additional energy to supply to the microbial degradation activity, Bribián Fisacsays, but is recommended only for existing aerobic plants where it can reach 30 percent sludge reduction.