17 February 2023

Beneficial Bacteria: Young Researchers in Nakhodka Experiment with Water Purification

Participants of the “Formula for Success” school research projects contest are studying the design documents of wastewater treatment facilities at the Nakhodka Mineral Fertilizer Plant (NFP). Students from School 1 are doing a project called “Biological Methods for Treating Methanol Production Wastewater.” While working on this project, the students consulted with the specialists of NFP.

The “Formula for Success” contest is a traditional educational initiative of NFP, implemented with the support of the Nakhodka administration and Information and Methodological Center “Razvitie”. Improving the quality of life in Nakhodka is a key goal of the company’s social policy, and supporting talented and active youth is an important part of this strategy. Even as school students, participants of the “Formula for Success” actively work on projects that are already improving the quality of life in the city.

One such project is the work of ninth-grade students from School 1. They are independently cultivating methylotrophic bacteria, and are planning to use these bacteria for water purification. This experiment mimics the future wastewater treatment at NFP, which is why the advisory assistance from the company’s specialists has become an integral part of their work.

“The most effective biological method of wastewater treatment is using methylotrophic bacteria. We faced a challenge as there is very little literature available on the subject of our research, but this only adds to the thrill as we feel like pioneers in our field. That is why the meeting with experts from NFP proved to be incredibly valuable for us. They provided us with insights on how wastewater will be treated at the facility, explained the technological process, and addressed all our inquiries. We will certainly incorporate the information we have obtained into our research,” shared Victoria Yun, a participant of the “Formula for Success” contest.

As part of the experiment, researchers placed tree bark in two Petri dishes. One dish contained an agar solution, while the other contained the same solution with the addition of formaldehyde. The initial results are already evident — life has emerged in both containers. However, the researchers still need to determine how this life will further develop and how effectively the cultivated bacteria can purify water.

“The meeting with the students was good for both sides of the dialogue. In our pastoral city, it is pleasant to see young people interested in chemistry and technological processes. That’s why we gladly shared our knowledge and experience. These active high school students will soon become young professionals. It would be great if they choose NFP for their careers,” added Denis Dudakov, the Head of the Water Treatment and Purification Department at NFP.

When designing the wastewater treatment system at NFP, they have used advanced and effective modern technologies. During the water cleaning process, they have a special tank called a sequencing batch reactor. It contains active sludge, which consists of bacteria and tiny organisms that help clean the wastewater. These microorganisms work hard to break down organic matter in the water, turning it into mineral compounds. These compounds, along with the active sludge, settle as sediment and are removed from the wastewater. Afterward, the water goes through ozone and ultraviolet treatment to get rid of any remaining harmful substances and to add oxygen to a level suitable for marine life. All these steps in the technology are designed to minimize harm to nature.