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Simplified definitions

These definitions are meant to give you a general idea of what the term refers to.

Assimilation: The process of breaking down a compound, and making the broken subunits a part of the cells biomolecules. Assimilation is different than degradation. Degradation is merely breaking down the compound. The degraded compound may, or may not be, assimilated by the degrading bacteria. In the assimilation process, the compound (degraded or not) becomes a part of the bacteria’s metabolic pathway.

Bacillus: A generic name of rod shaped bacteria. It is a common type of bacteria found in the environment, esp. in soil.

Biopolymer: Any long, chain like biomolecule with repeating molecular units can be termed as biopolymer. Some examples include proteins, starch, etc. A biopolymer will have repeating subunits. In context of wastewater microbiology, the term is often used to describe a slimy starch polymer secreted by bacterial cells during floc formation. The amount and density of the polymer depends on the age of the floc.

Bio-Surfactant: Bio-surfactants are molecules secreted by bacteria that behave like detergents. These molecules have hydrophilic (water loving) heads and hydrophobic (water hating) tails. In other words, one part of the molecule can bond with water, while the other part of the same molecule can bond with oil and grease. As a result, these molecules help bacteria solubilize oil and grease, and transport it inside the bacterial cell for degradation and assimilation.

BOD: BOD, or Biological Oxygen Demand, is a measure of oxygen consumed for oxidation of chemicals in effluent. It corresponds to a standard quantity of effluent and the oxidation is carried out by a standard set of bacteria. BOD is measured in PPM.

COD: COD, or Chemical Oxygen Demand, is a measure of oxygen consumed for complete oxidation of chemicals in effluent. It corresponds to a standard quantity of effluent and the oxidation is carried out using chemical oxidizing agents. COD is measured in PPM.

Degradation: It is a process of breaking down a molecule into smaller components. Bacteria do this using intra and extracellular enzymes. Degradation is often the first step initiated by bacteria to use a chemical as a source of energy or food, or as both.

Enzyme: An enzyme can be described as a protein formed inside a bacterium to carry out several metabolic functions. An enzyme can be seen as bio-catalyst often driving bio-chemical reactions in a control environment. Enzymes are proteins and their function depends on the structural integrity. The structure of an enzyme is highly dependent on its surrounding environment. Enzymes are affected by changes in pH, temperature, ionic concentration, TDS, etc. Bacteria provide a working environment, intracellularly, for enzymes to function optimally.

GMO: Genetically Modified Organisms.

 

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