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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Biology the Most Effective Technology to Clean Pollution?
How Does The Process Work?
What Does An Installation Look Like?
What Are the Performance Expectations of Your Technology?
Why Is Your Technology Cost Effective?
What Is BOD (Biological or Biochemical Oxygen Demand)?
What Is COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand)?
What Is DO (Dissolved Oxygen)?
How Do I Know That Biological Water Renewal Is a Natural and Safe Process?
What Are Bacteria?


Why Is Biology the Most Effective Technology to Clean Pollution?

Biology Is the Most Effective Technology to Clean Pollution
Filters, reverse osmosis, absorption materials, and oil separators are designed to isolate and concentrate non-dissolved pollutants.  However, filters can't economically isolate contaminants that are emulsified in solution.  That means surfactants, such as soaps, detergents, waxes, wetting agents; and petroleum products, such as crude oil, motor oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, lubricants, cutting fluids, and hydraulic oil; and other hydrocarbons, such as animal and vegetable fats, oils, and greases remain emulsified in filtered water.  Only microbes can economically eliminate emulsified pollutants.

Water Renewal Technologies uses microbes to restore commercial and industrial waste water to a clean, clear condition so that it may be reused in your facility.

You buy the water for your process, and then you pay to throw it down the drain.  Why not clean the water so that it can be reused, as you would any other tool?  Pay for the tool once and save the cost of repeated disposal.  Our system will save you money on your water and disposal costs.

The advantages of biological restoration are:

  • Pollutants are converted to carbon dioxide and water.
  • The process is odorless and poses no risk to people, animals, and plants.  Our process does not allow the growth of pathogens.  Water can be renewed to EPA drinking water standards.
  • Large volumes of water can be processed and returned to your process rapidly.  We have installations that process 20,000 gallons per hour and digest 150 Lbs of COD per day, but our technology is scalable, larger or smaller, so any volume and flow rate is practical.
  • Our bioreactor is small compared to other renewal systems because we have learned how to optimize the living environment of our microbes.
  • Biology, using microbes, is recognized by environmental regulatory agencies as an effective and safe method of renewal.

Why Use Microbes?
Microbes consume just about everything.  It has been known for many years that some microbes digest hydrocarbons, including petroleum products.  Motor oil manufacturers add anti-bacterial agents to their product to preserve the oil.  Bacteria are consuming oil dispersed in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil rig explosion in 2010.  Bacteria has been used for many years to help clean up oil spills, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Alaska and the 2002 Presitge spill off the Galicia coast, north of Spain.

The most familiar form of biological water restoration for most of us is applied in municipal sewage treatment plants and family septic tanks.  These systems use anaerobic microbes to process waste.  Byproducts of anaerobic bacteria are water and hydrogen sulfide, also called sewer gas, which gives off an unpleasant odor and is dangerous to workers in high concentrations.  Further, water treated with anaerobic bacteria is stagnant and will breed pathogens unless oxygenated or treated with UV light or ozone.

Microbes Consume Industrial Waste On An Industrial Scale
We use aerobic bacteria in our system to transform pollutants, including oil, gasoline, cutting fluids, lubricants, hydraulic oil, FOG's (fats, oils, and greases) soaps, detergents, waxes, sealants, and wetting agents into harmless carbon dioxide and water.

Aerobic bacteria found in nature do not produce enough chemical reactions for practical industrial water renewal. Because we enhance the living environment of our aerobic bacteria our technology will clean significant volumes of commercial and industrial process water in a relatively small and unobtrusive space.

We have installed systems to process 20,000 gallons of water per hour, but a system can be scaled to process any volume and flow rate, and any BOD (biological oxygen demand) and COD (chemical oxygen demand) load.

Biological water restoration is the most efficient and economical way to completely eliminate emulsified organic pollutants in process waste water.  Waste water can be diverted to storage tanks and processed away from the original location or in-line and in real-time with the process machinery. 

Biological Water Restoration:

  • DrainIs a cost effective technology to thoroughly renew polluted water.
  • Protects an increasingly expensive, scarce, and regulated resource - water.  Our technology allows you to reuse your water over and over again.
  • Will allow you to expand your business without over-burdening the municipal sewer system.
  • If you continue to discharge to sewer, our process will eliminate the BOD (biological oxygen demand) and COD (chemical oxygen demand) content of your effluent, saving money on load assessments and fines.
  • Is a natural process, ecologically safe, and is cost effective.
  • Uses harmless, neutral pH aerobic bacteria to chemically convert hydrocarbon and surfactant molecule chains into carbon dioxide and odorless, clean water that can be reused and reprocessed again and again.
  • Poses no health or safety risks to workers, animals, or vegetation.  The microbes are non-toxic, non-pathogenic, and are completely harmless.
  • Eliminates 100% of non-solids disposal costs.
  • Systems to clean process water can be scaled for any volume and flow rate, and any BOD and COD load.

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How Does The Process Work?


Biological Water Renewal: How the Process Works
Our systems can be customized for your unique needs. This illustration represents a typical configuration that will clean waste water containing cutting oils, lubricants, and hydraulic fluids from manufacturing processes, or soaps, detergents, waxes, sealants, motor oil, and road oil from a car wash water.

sedimentationSedimentation – waste water with all pollution, including biodegradable and non-biodegradable, enters settling tanks where particles heavier than water are separated by gravity.





aerationAeration – from the last sedimentation tank water enters here where it is aerated and prepared for the bio treatment process. By now FOGs, petroleum's, and chemicals are emulsified in the water.








seperation

Separation – from the aeration tank water is sent through a hydrocyclone which removes remaining particles larger than 1–5 microns. The system has no head loss build up and no clogging by the solids being separated. Hydrocyclones use a tangential injection flow process, enhancing the centrifugal forces and moving solid particles outwards. The dispersed particles move downwards in a spiral path into an underflow chamber, while clean liquid moves upwards to the center of the spiral, towards the top outlet. The clean liquid moves to the bioreactor while the particles are sent back to the sedimentation tanks.




conversionBiological Conversion – water enters the bioreactor and comes in contact with active bacterium that is growing on bio-media blocks. Aeration is infused from the bottom of the bio-blocks. Bacterium converts all biodegradable material into water and carbon dioxide. Bacteria also grow on small particles (less than 1-5 microns) that were not filtered out by the hydroclone and form clusters called bio-sludge.




clarifierClarifier – if the water is to be reused it should pass through a clarifier to separate bio-sludge that traveled with the water after leaving the bio-reactor. As the water passes upward through diagonal channels in the clarifier blocks gravity inhibits the upward movement of the bio-sludge. The bio-sludge collects on the floor of the clarifier tank and is pumped out daily.






Clean Water Storage – when the water leaves the clarifier it is clean and ready to be reused. The water is clean and samples have met EPA drinking water standards.







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What Does An Installation Look Like? Photographs From Projects

Above Ground System

This is our 1,200 gallon per hour above ground aluminum tank.  Dimensions are 6ft.x6ft.x3ft.  They can be daisy chained together.  Includes a hydrocyclone.

















Settling Tanks










Hydrocyclones

On the left (bottom half of the photo) is a pair of hydrocyclones for a 10,000 gallon per hour system.  Above the hydrocyclones are the aeration pumps for the bioreactor.  On the right is a cluster of hydrocyclones for a 20,000 gallon per hour system.

















Underground Fiberglass Tanks

The tanks being manufactured.











The tanks being installed.




















Underground Concrete Tanks

The bioreactor being built.


























An indoor, under the floor concrete tank installation.




















The Results

Left: Microbe activity in the bioreactor.            Right: Samples of renewed water.











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What Are the Performance Expectations of Your Technology?


Biological Water Renewal: Performance Expectations
Commercial and industrial waste water contains several different components that can be classified in two major categories:

Biodegradable materials like chemicals, including soaps, detergents, waxes, wetting agents, sealants; and hydrocarbons, including petroleum products, fats, oils and greases. Usually these components are measured as COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand)

Inert or non-biodegradable materials like clay, sand, and salts of various kinds. Usually these components are measured as TSS (Total Suspended Solids) and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)

The performance of a bio treatment system is based on the reduction of COD and BOD from the influent. Our system reduces the COD and BOD by using a submerged attached growth bio reactor. This reactor is able to consume 1.5 Kg COD per cubic meter in 24 hours. The reduction value is used to size the bio reactor to the incoming COD and BOD levels.

TSS, typically larger than 1 - 5 microns, is removed by means of sedimentation or filtering. Our system generally uses sedimentation tanks and hydro-cyclones to accomplish this, but other techniques may be used to remove TSS like lint.

TDS is only lowered if the TDS component is bio degradable. Some TSS components, like salt, will remain in the water. The water coming from the recycling unit is odor free, clear and reusable.

Water Quality Expectations Our system can achieve the following water quality: Oxygen higher than 60 % Oil and grease emulsion less than 5 ppm PH value 6.5 – 8.0 COD reduction 1.5 Kg per cubic meter of installed bio reactor per day BOD number less than 30 mg/l

TDS levels will vary if sewer discharge is not available and new water is not added to the system.

Some residual chemicals may remain in the water after the biological renewal process. Dyes, for example, take a long time to biodegrade. If dyes are in the process water, the renewed water may have a tint from the dominate dye color.

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Why Is Your Technology Cost Effective?

  • We are experienced at creating the correct cocktail of microbes and enzymes to digest targeted pollutants, including emulsified hydrocarbons and surfactants.
  • Our system is scalable for any volume, flow rate, and pollutant load.
  • Our aerobic bioreactor sustains a superior level bacteria activity. We have very high densities of active bacteria per cubic meter of bioreactor space.
  • Our bioreactor is biologically and mechanically efficient. We don't need to precondition the waste water, we don't need to back flush the equipment, and except for the initial settling tanks that collect suspended solids, our system is self cleaning, which makes it virtually maintenance free.
  • Our system is simple and flexible. Our tanks can be installed above ground or underground, and they can be made of concrete, fiberglass or steel.
  • Because our systems are simple mechanically, we have fewer parts to install and wear out.
  • Our systems are automated with a programmable logic controller. Every step of our process is monitored with sensors that can be viewed through a web browser on your network or across the Internet.
  • Because our overall foot print is small (relative to the amount of COD and BOD that we process), and our equipment is easy to install, integration into your existing facility is less complicated.
  • Our system renews your water so that it may be used over and over again. As a car wash operator told us, "We've washed tens of thousands of cars with the same water."
  • Because our system restores your water to its orginial condition, you save money on disposal costs, access charges, permits, load fees, and fines.
  • Our systems can be used in zero discharge applications. You may be eligible to apply for a permit to cap your sanitary sewer pipe and discharge excess water into the storm sewer, or you can use your excess water for irrigation.
  • Our system is completely safe for workers, plant life and animals. Pathogens, which grow in warm and stagnant water, cannot survive in aerobic systems because they are consumed as food. No UV or Ozone required.
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What Is BOD (Biological or Biochemical Oxygen Demand)?

BOD (Biological or Biochemical Oxygen Demand) It is the amount of dissolved oxygen used by aerobic microorganisms to decompose the organic matter in a sample of water, such as lake water or waste water from a sewage treatment plant. Low BOD is an indicator of good water quality and high BOD indicates the degree to which water is polluted. Results are expressed as parts per million (ppm) or milligrams of oxygen consumed per liter (mg/L).

A common method of calculating BOD is to first measure the amount of dissolved oxygen in a sample of water. The sample is bottled and stoppered so that no more oxygen can be added to the sample, and then stored in a light tight environment at 20 degrees C. After 5 days the bottle is opened and dissolved oxygen level is measured again. The degree to which oxygen has been depleted indicates metabolic activity of microorganisms in the sample as they decomposed the organic matter in the water sample. The difference of dissolved oxygen from the first sample to the sample taken on the 5th day is expressed as BOD.

A high BOD indicates the presence of a large number of aerobic microorganisms that have increased their populations as a result of an abundant food source (organic materials) and oxygen. As microorganism populations grow they draw down the oxygen supply. Microorganism activity stops when oxygen is depleted or the food source is completely digested, whichever comes first.

The renewal of polluted surface water depends on the presence of dissolved oxygen for aerobic bacteria to decompose organic matter. A stagnant lake becomes a swamp because the water was not sufficiently aerated to keep up with the oxygen demand of the bacteria. The result may be fish kills and dead vegetation, which then exasperates the problem further. When this happens anaerobic bacteria take over. Instead of giving off odorless carbon dioxide, they give off hydrogen sulfide, which is what make swamps (and sewage treatment plants) stink. Turbulent streams and rivers will recover quicker from spikes in pollution than will ponds and lakes because they are more efficient at aeration.

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What Is COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand)?

COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) It estimates the total concentration of all chemicals (organic compounds) present in waste water and the amount of oxygen required to oxidize them into carbon dioxide and water. Unlike BOD, it does not differentiate between biologically available and inert organic materials. It also does not measure biologic activity in water, as BOD does. BOD relies on biology (bacteria) to oxidize organic material. Unlike BOD, COD uses both biology and chemical reactions to measure the amount of oxygen required to oxidize both biologic organic materials and inert organic materials. COD values will always be higher than BOD values. An advantage of measuring COD is that a water sample can be analyzed in a few hours instead of 5 days. Results are expressed as parts per million (ppm) or milligrams of oxygen consumed per liter (mg/L).

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What Is DO (Dissolved Oxygen)?

DO (Dissolved Oxygen) It refers to oxygen gas that is dissolved in water. It is an indicator of the health of a water ecosystem. Dissolved oxygen can range from 0-18 parts per million (ppm), but healthy water systems generally require 5-6 parts per million.





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How Do I Know That Biological Water Renewal Is a Natural and Safe Process?


Biological Water Renewal Is a Natural and Safe Process
Biological water renewal, also known as restoration or bioremediation, uses microbes to remove pollutants from water. Biological water renewal occurs naturally, but we can enhance nature by adding nutrients, enzymes, and oxygen to the water so as to accelerate the metabolic activity of desirable microbes that digest targeted pollutants.

Since microbes were first studied it has been known that bacteria break apart and digest hydrocarbons. In the 1970's research in genetics led scientists to understand the potential of bioremediation to clean up pollution on an industrial scale. "Bioremediation holds great promise for some of our worst problems," says Terry Hazen, head of the ecology department at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California. "There is no compound, man-made or natural, that microorganisms cannot degrade."

In addition to the renewal of sewage water, a useful application of bacteria on an industrial scale is to dissolve surfactants and hydrocarbons, including soaps and detergents, petroleum products, and food processing waste.

The ability of bacteria to clean every area of our environment is remarkable. A good example is crude oil and its constituents. According to Wikipedia, "Petroleum oil contains compounds that are toxic for most life forms. Oil pollution causes major ecological damage. Marine environments are especially vulnerable since oil spills of coastal regions and the open sea are difficult to contain and mitigation is difficult. In addition to pollution through human activities, about 250 million liters of petroleum enter the marine environment every year from natural seepages. Despite its toxicity, a considerable fraction of the petroleum oil that enters marine systems is eliminated by the hydrocarbon-degrading activities of microbial communities."

It has been estimated that 9% of petroleum discharge into marine environments is due to human activity. The rest comes from natural oil seeps. Each year bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico consume the equivalent of about 2 Exxon Valdez oil spills, but the oil comes from sea floor leakage, not oil tanker wreckage or off shore drilling rig disasters.

Right:  A vertical section through the Earth's crust, showing folded layers of sedimentary rocks holding oil in the crest of an underground fold. Source: US Geological Survey

The world's largest natural sea floor oil seep is at Coal Oil Point off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. For the last several hundred thousand years, the daily, yes daily, average seepage from Coal Oil Point is 20-25 tons of oil, about 40 tons of methane, and about 19 tons of reactive organic gas, including ethane, propane, and butane. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_oil_point_seep_field)

"One of the natural questions is: What happens to all of this oil?" said Dave Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara. "So much oil seeps up and floats on the sea surface…We know some of it will come ashore as tar balls, but it doesn't stick around. And then there are the massive slicks. You can see them, sometimes extending 20 miles from the seeps. But what really is the ultimate fate?"…

European Remote Sensing 1 satellite radar image depicting natural oil seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel off Coal Oil Point, California, Jan. 13, 1996. Source: NASA (interpretation and caption; Image source: ESA)

Microbes consume most, but not all, of the compounds in the oil…"Nature does an amazing job of acting on this oil but somehow the microbes stopped eating, leaving a small fraction of the compounds in the sediments," said Chris Reddy, a marine chemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Mass. "Why this happens is still a mystery, but we are getting closer." (http://www.livescience.com/environment/090520-natural-oil-seeps.html)

The concept of genetically manipulating microbes to make them more efficient digesters of pollution is exciting because this is the future of environmental engineering, but we still know relatively little about bacteria and their behaviors. As of yet scientists have not been able to genetically improve upon nature.

The Horizon oil well disaster was a tragedy for wildlife and residents in the Gulf, but it has given scientists an unusual opportunity to study bioremediation on a scale unavailable to them before. Crude oil contains thousands of different hydrocarbon compounds, from simple alkane gases like methane, propane, butane and ethane, to complex aromatic hydrocarbons like the carcinogen benzene. Microbes that digest these compounds are often highly specialized. Some only digest a single hydrocarbon compound, and they may only be found regionally. Others have veracious appetites for a variety of compounds and are distributed in both hemispheres, in heat and ice.

The dream of a single, genetically engineered, commercially viable "superbug" has not been realized. That being said, bioremediation does work, because after all, our oceans, beaches, and oil well sites would be filled with black goo and tar if it didn't.

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What Are Bacteria?


Bacteria (some content from Wikipedia)
Bacteria are a large group of single-celled, prokaryote microorganisms. Typically a few micrometers in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria are ubiquitous in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste, water, and deep in the Earth's crust, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. There are typically 40 million bacterial cells in a gram of soil and a million bacterial cells in a milliliter of fresh water; in all, there are approximately five nonillion (5×1030) bacteria on Earth, forming much of the world's biomass.

Below: Bacteria on an oil drop (magnified 100x) Image: © Science/AAAS

bacteriaBacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction. However, most bacteria have not been characterized, and only about half of the phyla of bacteria have species that can be grown in the laboratory. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a branch of microbiology.

bacteriaLeft: Campylobacter bacteria are the number-one cause of food-related gastrointestinal illness in the United States.

There are approximately ten times as many bacterial cells in the human flora as there are human cells in the body, with large numbers of bacteria on the skin and as gut flora. The vast majority of the bacteria in the body are rendered harmless by the protective effects of the immune system, and some are beneficial. However, a few species of bacteria are pathogenic and cause infectious diseases, including cholera, syphilis, anthrax, leprosy and bubonic plague. The most common fatal bacterial diseases are respiratory infections. Tuberculosis alone kills about 2 million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. In developed countries, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. In industry, bacteria are important in sewage treatment, industrial and commercial waste water renewal, the production of cheese and yogurt through fermentation, biotechnology, and the manufacture of antibiotics and chemicals.

bacteria

Bacteria display a wide diversity of shapes and sizes, called morphologies. Bacterial cells are typically 0.5–5.0 micrometers in length. However, a few species are up to half a millimeter long and are visible to the unaided eye. Among the smallest bacteria measure only 0.3 micrometers, as small as the largest viruses. Some bacteria may be even smaller, but these ultramicrobacteria are not well-studied.

Most bacterial species are either spherical or rod-shaped. Elongation is associated with swimming. Some rod-shaped bacteria are slightly curved or comma-shaped; others can be spiral-shaped, or tightly coiled. A small number of species even have tetrahedral or cuboidal shapes. More recently, bacteria were discovered deep under the Earth's crust that can grow as long rods with a star-shaped cross-section. The large surface area to volume ratio of this morphology may give these bacteria an advantage in nutrient-poor environments. This wide variety of shapes is determined by the bacterial cell wall and cytoskeleton, and is important because it can influence the ability of bacteria to acquire nutrients, attach to surfaces, swim through liquids and escape predators.

bacteria

Bacterial species exist as single cells, associate in pairs, chains, or group together in clusters. Bacteria can also be elongated to form filaments, or may be surrounded by a sheath that contains many individual cells. Certain types even form complex, branched filaments.

Right: Oleispira breaks down oil leaving water and carbon dioxide.


Below: A Hungry Microbe: This mutant strain of Alcanivorax borkumensis turns oil into bioplastic. Illustration by American Society for Microbiology.

bacteriaBacteria often attach to surfaces and form dense aggregations called biofilms or bacterial mats. These films can range from a few micrometers in thickness to up to half a meter in depth, and may contain multiple species of bacteria, protists and archaea.

Bacteria living in biofilms display a complex arrangement of cells and extracellular components, forming secondary structures such as microcolonies, through which there are networks of channels to enable better diffusion of nutrients and coordinated multicellular behavior.

In natural environments, such as soil or the surfaces of plants, the majority of bacteria are bound to surfaces in biofilms. Biofilms are also important in medicine, as these structures are often present during chronic bacterial infections or in infections of implanted medical devices, and bacteria protected within biofilms are much harder to kill than individual isolated bacteria.

bacteria

Left: Alcanivorax borkumensis, a natural bacterium that has a voracious appetite for hydrocarbons.bacteria


The ability of bacteria to degrade organic compounds is remarkable and has been used in waste processing and bioremediation. Bacteria capable of digesting the hydrocarbons in petroleum are often used to clean up oil spills. Bacteria are also used for the bioremediation of industrial toxic wastes.




Left: Neptunomonas attacks the carcinogenic constituents found in most oil deposits.


Right: Colwellia is a hearty oil eater, able to thrive in a variety of habitats, including marine sediments, arctic ice, and the warm Gulf waters. Some psychrophilic bacteria like Colwellia psychrerythraea are capable of swimming at high speeds at -10°C; others are capable of dividing every 160 days in permafrost samples at -20 °C in the lab.

Bacteria frequently secrete chemicals into their environment in order to modify it favorably. The secretions are often proteins and may act as enzymes that digest some form of food in the environment.

Giant tube worms live nearby hydrothermal vents and have a symbiotic relationship with chemosynthetic bacteria. Young the worms have moths and guts, but as they grow and bacteria enter their bodies those features begin to disappear. Millions of bacteria live inside a tubeworm and convert chemicals and minerals from hydrothermal vents into energy that nourish both them and the tube worm.bacteriaTubeworms grow and reproduce quickly because of the limited time that a hydrothermal vent is active.

Bacteria form complex associations with many organisms. These symbiotic associations can be divided into parasitism, mutualism and commensalism. Due to their small size, commensal bacteria are ubiquitous and grow on animals and plants exactly as they will grow on any other surface. However, their growth can be increased by warmth and sweat, and large populations of these organisms in humans are the cause of body odor and halitosis, or bad breath.

Many bacteria are found as symbionts in humans and other organisms. For example, the presence of over 1,000 bacterial species in the normal human gut flora of the intestines can contribute to gut immunity, synthesize vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin K and biotin, convert milk protein to lactic acid, as well as fermenting complex undigestible carbohydrates. The presence of this gut flora also inhibits the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria and these beneficial bacteria are consequently sold as probiotic dietary supplements.

Bacteria, often lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Lactococcus, in combination with yeasts and molds, have been used for thousands of years in the preparation of fermented foods such as cheese, pickles, soy sauce, sauerkraut, vinegar, wine and yoghurt.

Testimonial"Our water renewal technology is fantastic.  Unlike the other reclaim systems on the market, this one works.  We use the restored water everywhere except for spot free rinse.  The water has no smell and is crystal clear.  As our manager says, 'We've washed tens of thousands of cars using the same water'".  Green Planet Car Wash, Lakeville, Minnesota