Bioreactor Waste Management Technology


Most waste management facilities these days use what’s referred to as an Aerobic-Anaerobic Bio reactor which is designed to speed up the degradation of garbage, in turn eliminating it from our landfills. This process only applies to organic materials that are naturally biodegradable such as food, compost, plant matter, etc while materials like plastics, metals and rubbers are better suited for recycling. These bioreactor plants are divided into multiple sections as demonstrated by the image below:


Image provided by Waste Management

The top most area is where the solid waste is placed and is well aerated to allow natural settling to occur. All of the liquids produced by this stage are received by large containers underneath which are then pumped off to a processing silo. Just prior to the liquids being pumped off, all gas produced by this stage are extracted and sent to a separate processing chamber. This three-stage separation process offers a simple solution for treating the various states of matter (liquid, gas, solid) with their own custom tailored anaerobic/aerobic treatment processes to maximize the effectiveness of breaking waste down. This also vastly decreases the amount of potentially volatile materials produced which are safely then treated and broken down into processed organic compounds meaning the plants are not only reducing the volume of waste in landfills, but making them safer for us to live around and better for our environment.

Some of the nasty chemicals produced by waste in a landfill (which are eliminated by Bioreactor Waste Management technologies such as these plants) includes high concentration of ammonia, which is extremely poisonous to the environment. It would be very bad for ammonia produced by rotting garbage to leech into our water supply. To combat the production of ammonia, nitrogen is circulated through the waste reduction cycle which in turn converts it into nitrated leachate. Nitrated leachate then serves as an electron donor for degradation, rendering the initial ammonia concentrations magnitudes safer than pure ammonia leeching into the soil around it.

The way that these technologies have developed over the past twenty to fifty years is truly astounding in the grand scheme of things. To think that just a decade ago one of the primary ways of disposing of waste (and even to this day in certain countries) is to throw it all in the nearest body of water or river. We now know the horrible environmental impacts this kind of disposal process has and most modern governments will heavily fine anyone found dumping toxic waste into our water or land.

To learn more about Bioreactor Technologies, you can visit the Wm.com article on the subject. We thank them for their useful resource on the topic.