Microorganisms play essential roles in maintaining both human society and the environment. We have practical methods in place to confirm the existence in water of microorganisms contributing to environmental purification as well as to carry out biological assessments to determine the hazardous substance content of water.
In step with the enhancement of living standards, the volume of chemical substances being used to achieve and maintain such standards has also grown and there are fears this will impact the environment in unexpected ways. To address this problem, we are engaged in biological testing aimed at comprehensively assessing the behavior of multiple chemical substances. Our testing methods are also capable of predicting the environmental impact of as yet unregulated substances. Furthermore, we are exploring how to better utilize microorganisms in environmental purification via the use of gene analysis technologies. In addition to engaging in testing, we are striving to improve the quality of effluent from our testing facilities as part of our ongoing development efforts aimed at creating technologies to support people’s well-being and the earth’s environment.
Employing algae, crustacean, fish and other aquatic organisms, this technology enables the clear assessment of effluent safety via the evaluation of toxic impact on effluent and the comprehensive analysis of other chemical factors. Biological assessment of this kind is legally mandatory in many countries. Japan’s Ministry of the Environment also encourages the use of this method. Drawing on our expertise as a water treatment equipment manufacturer, we are using this method to help improve the quality of effluent. The use of this technology is helping us acquire an increasing breadth of findings that would have otherwise been unnoticed if we use only chemical analysis.
Targeting zebrafish, this test is aimed at evaluating the impact of constant exposure to effluent over the course of growth from a zygote to larval fish.
Daphnia is positioned as a primary consumer in the aquatic food chain. This test evaluates the impact of effluent exposure on the growth and reproduction of daphnia.
The alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata is positioned as a producer in the aquatic food chain. This test evaluates the impact of effluent exposure on its growth and reproduction.
In the course of performing chemical analysis, I began to think that there must be better methods for multilaterally evaluating effluent and learned about biological testing at a seminar hosted by the Ministry of the Environment. My interest in biology led me to want to incorporate this testing technology into Kobelco Eco-Solutions’ repertoire. Biological testing involves handling organisms and thus requires high reliability. With this in mind, my team acquired Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) certification, an international standard for laboratory testing using algae, in 2017. In Japan, we are the 10th organization to be GLP certified and the first among water treatment equipment manufacturers. Although biological testing of this kind is popular overseas, only a handful of tests have been carried out domestically. Accordingly, I have made a daily habit of studying relevant papers published by overseas researchers while engaging in development.
Employing gene analysis technologies, we are engaged in the analysis of microorganisms that play key roles in environmental purification, exploring better ways to realize their potential. The principal target of this analysis is microorganisms inhabiting activated sludge, which is used in sewage and wastewater treatment, with the aim of helping stabilize and optimize treatment processes.
We use a real-time PCR method that boasts high accuracy and sensitivity, to quantitatively analyze the existence of gene of targeted microorganisms in a specimen.
As the performance of wastewater treatment equipment largely hinges on these microorganisms, findings from periodic analyses are greatly useful in terms of maintaining and managing such equipment.
Employing cutting-edge genome sequence analysis technologies, this method comprehensively analyzes the microorganism composition of a specimen. This method enables statistical analysis—assuming differences between microbial communities inhabiting treatment facilities in different locations, seasonal and other variable conditions—aimed at determining the types of microorganism that significantly affect treatment performance.
The RFLP is a method that is used to determine human parentage as well as to identify crop varieties. Employing this method, we analyze the patterns of microbial communities inhabiting in a specimen. The RFLP analysis of periodically sampled specimens enables us to quickly estimate whether changes in the status of microbial communities took place.
Relationships between the number and types of microorganisms and the performance of wastewater treatment equipment vary by the content of effluent being treated. Because of this, actual analysis to determine such relationships necessarily requires detailed data collected from each treatment site. Therefore, we carry out data analysis with the help of those who handle the maintenance and management of wastewater treatment facilities as we are dependent on a variety of valuable input only they can contribute. We are thus striving to identify types of microorganisms that serve as benchmarks for optimal facility maintenance and management.
With the aim of helping protect a sound environment and human well-being, we will employ our robust technological capabilities to support the pursuit of new research and development themes. In this way, we will contribute to environmental preservation and the development of a future society.