Our Research, Development and Engineering innovation has created the Biotechnology Solution Platform to deliver solutions for both the rehabilitation of existing waste water treatment works and the construction new waste water treatment infrastructure that is more efficient, more operationally robust, more easily scalable and more cost effective than conventional technology.
In order to understand the underlying scientific principles behind these innovations, three key concepts must grasped:
- The limitations of Newtonian engineering principles when they are applied to biotic systems
- The basic principles of Systems Theory as they apply to biotic systems (such as waste water treatment works)
- How to apply these Systems Theory principles within a Bio-engineering design paradigm to build infrastructure that is more resilient to disruption from overloading and more supportive of the natural processes that waste water treatment is dependent upon.
1 The Limitations of Newtonian Engineering Principles
The disciplines of civil and mechanical engineering that dominate our conventional approach to the design of waste water treatment infrastructure are founded in the principles of Newtonian science. Newtonian science describes precisely the behavior of inanimate bodies and structures.
In Systems Theory terms, such engineered entities are classified as Type 1 Systems – inanimate, mechanical and predictable by calculation using precise formulae.
There is a “sleight of hand” self-deception factor at play here which fools us into thinking that because we can calculate the volume of tanks, the flow rate of pumps, average hydraulic load, retention times etc, we can predict and control the behavior of the biotic system that the waste water treatment works in reality constitutes.
However, because the waste water treatment works is a biotic system, it does not obey Newtonian laws and principles. Biotic Systems are governed by Systems Theory not simple mechanics and thermodynamics.
It is because of this fundamental difference that waste water treatment works often deteriorate and become dysfunctional over time in the face of natural periodic or chronic fluctuations and overloads beyond the limits of the precise capacities and loads that the civil engineering design assumptions were based upon.
As a result, virtually all conventional waste water treatment works are inherently unstable and liable to enter a “death-loop” of positive feedback in the face of variations in hydraulic and organic load – a fact that manifests itself in congested sludge ponds and maturation ponds and failure to meet discharged effluent water regulations.
That Type 1 Systems will inevitably follow this path through instability to failure is axiomatically predictably using Systems Theory.
2 Systems Theory & the Attributes of Type 4 Systems
Wastewater treatment is a biochemical process mediated by microbes that produce enzymes – the engines of digestion. Every waste water treatment works contains a variety of localized micro-environments and conditions and requires a wide range of microbial biodiversity in order to dynamically optimize and maintain system integrity and performance. Accordingly every WWTW is a “Biotic System” (a living system) in its own right.
In Systems Theory terminology, Biotic Systems are Type 4 Complex Adaptive Systems. Type 4 Complex Adaptive Systems have innate resistance to disruption by environmental perturbances and in-built recovery capacity.
We are familiar with this ability in the way that all biotic systems from forests to animal populations are able to re-establish themselves in the absence of human presence and intervention, and how all living systems from ecologies to individual animals are able to respond to environmental perturbances in order to avoid or minimize their negative impact and re-establish the stability, sustainability and viability of the system.
Our conventional Newtonian design paradigm for WWTWs negates and neutralizes Type 4 System adaptive dynamism and robustness by imposing Type 1 System characteristics and limitations.
It is therefore necessary to have a basic understanding of Systems Theory in order to understand how to articulate design principles that impart Type 4 adaptive capabilities to the Biotic System in order to endow it with inertia to disruption and capacity for recovery from perturbances.
3 Bio-Engineering Design Principles
A Complex Adaptive System needs the requisite variety of recovery responses to system disruptions in order to be able to respond to and resist such disruption effectively. (To read more about of Systems Theory in the context of water resource management and wastewater treatment click here The Biotechnology Solution.com -Systems Theory.)
Wastewater treatment is a biochemical process driven by enzymes which digest the organic waste contaminants in the water. Pervasive enzyme availability is thus critical to effective wastewater treatment processes.
Effective enzyme supplementation ensures scalable responsive capacity to cope with increased system loading, thus supporting system inertia to disruption and the self-restorative characteristics of a Type 4 Complex Adaptive System.
Similarly aerobic digestion is the most efficient and effective modality of digestion. So ensuring optimized aerobic conditions wherever appropriate establishes another dimension for system inertia to disruption and self-recovery capability to be bolstered.
Finally the principle of fractality must be observed by imparting these Type 4 System attributes and capabilities fractally throughout the system so that they become pervasively intrinsic and innate. This avoids the Newtonian mistake of limiting local capability through overly specific and restrictive mechanical “works” functionality.
The Biotechnology Solution Platform provides the only toolset and architecture upon which to design and implement robust bio-engineering solutions within the framework of an effective Integrated Water Resource Management strategy.