How Alkalinity Affects Nitrification

Use alkalinity profiling in wastewater operations to control
biological activity and optimize process control

The Water Environment Federation’s new Operations Challenge laboratory event will determine alkalinity needs to facilitate nitrification. Operators will evaluate alkalinity and ammonia by analyzing a series of samples similar to those observed in water resource recovery facilities. 

This event will give operators an understanding of how alkalinity works in the wastewater treatment process to facilitate nitrification, as well as the analytical expertise to perform the tests onsite. This provides the real-time data needed to perform calculations, since these analyses typically are performed in a laboratory that can present a delay in the data. 

What is alkalinity?
The alkalinity of water is a measure of its capacity to neutralize acids. It also refers to the buffering capacity, or the capacity to resist a change in pH. For wastewater operations, alkalinity is measured and reported in terms of equivalent calcium carbonate ( CaCO3). Alkalinity is commonly measured to a certain pH. For wastewater, the measurement is total alkalinity, which is measured to a pH of 4.5 SU. Even though pH and alkalinity are related, there are distinct differences between these two parameters and how they can affect your facility operations.

Alkalinity and pH
Alkalinity is often used as an indicator of biological activity. In wastewater operations, there are three forms of oxygen available to bacteria: dissolved oxygen (O2), nitrate ions (NO3-), and sulfate ions (SO42-). Aerobic metabolisms use dissolved oxygen to convert food to energy. Certain classes of aerobic bacteria, called nitrifiers, use ammonia (NH3) for food instead of carbon-based organic compounds. This type of aerobic metabolism, which uses dissolved oxygen to convert ammonia to nitrate, is referred to as “nitrification.” Nitrifiers are the dominant bacteria when organic food supplies have been consumed.

Further processes include denitrification, or anoxic metabolism, which occurs when bacteria utilize nitrate as the source of oxygen and the bacteria use nitrate as the oxygen source. In an anoxic environment, the nitrate ion is converted to nitrogen gas while the bacteria converts the food to energy. Finally, anaerobic conditions will occur when dissolved oxygen and nitrate are no longer present and the bacteria will obtain oxygen from sulfate. The sulfate is converted to hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur-related compounds. 

Alkalinity is lost in an activated sludge process during nitrification. During nitrification, 7.14 mg of alkalinity as CaCO3 is destroyed for every milligram of ammonium ions oxidized. Lack of carbonate alkalinity will stop nitrification. In addition, nitrification is pH-sensitive and rates of nitrification will decline significantly at pH values below 6.8. Therefore, it is important to maintain an adequate alkalinity in the aeration tank to provide pH stability and also to provide inorganic carbon for nitrifiers. At pH values near 5.8 to 6.0, the rates may be 10% to 20% of the rate at pH 7.0. A pH of 7.0 to 7.2 is normally used to maintain reasonable nitrification rates, and for locations with low-alkalinity waters, alkalinity is added at the water resource recovery facility to maintain acceptable pH values. The amount of alkalinity added depends on the initial alkalinity concentration and amount of NH4-N to be oxidized. After complete nitrification, a residual alkalinity of 70 to 80 mg/L as CaCO3 in the aeration tank is desirable. If this alkalinity is not present, then alkalinity should be added to the aeration tank.  

Why is alkalinity or buffering important?
Aerobic wastewater operations are net-acid producing. Processes influencing acid formation include, but are not limited to 

  • biological nitrification in aeration tanks, trickling filters and rotating biological contactors
  • the acid formation stage in anaerobic digestion;
  • biological nitrification in aerobic digesters;
  • gas chlorination for effluent disinfection; and
  • chemical addition of aluminum or iron salts.

In wastewater treatment, it is critical to maintain pH in a range that is favorable for biological activity. These optimum conditions include a near-neutral pH value between 7.0 and 7.4. Effective and efficient operation of a biological process depends on steady-state conditions. The best operations require conditions without sudden changes in any of the operating variables. If kept in a steady state, good flocculating types of microorganisms will be more numerous. Alkalinity is the key to steady-state operations. The more stable the environment for the microorganisms, the more effectively they will be able to work. In other words, a sufficient amount of alkalinity can provide for improved performance and expanded treatment capacity.

How much alkalinity is needed?
To nitrify, alkalinity levels should be at least eight times the concentration of ammonia in wastewater. This value may be higher for untreated wastewater with higher-than-usual influent ammonia concentrations. The theoretical reaction shows that approximately 7.14 mg of alkalinity (as CaCO3) is consumed for every milligram of ammonia oxidized. A rule of thumb is an 8-to-1 ratio of alkalinity to ammonia. Inadequate alkalinity could result in incomplete nitrification and depressed pH values in the facility. Plants with the ability to denitrify can add back valuable alkalinity to the process, and those values should be taken into consideration when doing mass balancing. (For Operations Challenge event, the decision has been made to not incorporate the denitrification step in process profiling.) To determine alkalinity requirements for plant operations, it is critical to know the following parameters:

  • influent ammonia, in mg/L,
  • influent total alkalinity, in mg/L, and
  • effluent total alkalinity, in mg/L.

For every mg/L of converted ammonia, alkalinity decreases by 7.14 mg/L. Therefore, to calculate theoretical ammonia removal, multiply the influent (raw) ammonia by 7.14 to determine the minimum amount of alkalinity needed for ammonia removal through nitrification. 

For example:

Influent ammonia = 36 mg/L

36 mg/L ammonia ´ 7.14 mg/L alkalinity to nitrify = 257 mg/L alkalinity requirements

257 mg/L is the minimum amount of alkalinity needed to nitrify 36 mg/L of influent ammonia. 

Once you have calculated the minimum amount of alkalinity needed to nitrify ammonia in wastewater, compare this value against your measured available influent alkalinity to determine if enough is present for complete ammonia removal, and how much (if any) additional alkalinity is needed to complete nitrification. 

For example:

Influent ammonia alkalinity needs for nitrification = 257 mg/L

Actual measured influent alkalinity = 124 mg/L

257 – 124 = 133 mg/L deficiency 

In this example, alkalinity is insufficient to completely nitrify influent ammonia, and supplementation through denitrification or chemical addition is required. Remember that this is a minimum — you still need some for acid buffering in downstream processes, such as disinfection.

Bioavailable alkalinity
Most experts recommend an alkalinity residual (effluent residual) of 75 to 150 mg/L. As previously identified, total alkalinity is measured to a pH endpoint of 4.5. For typical wastewater treatment applications, operational pH never dips that low. When measuring total alkalinity, the endpoint reflects how much alkalinity would be available at a pH of 4.5. At higher pH values of 7.0 to 7.4 SU, where wastewater operations are typically conducted, not all alkalinity measured to a pH of 4.5 is available for use. This is a critical distinction for the bioavailability of alkalinity. Therefore, in addition to the alkalinity required for nitrification, additional alkalinity must be available to maintain the 7.0 to 7.4 pH. Typically, the amount of residual alkalinity required to maintain pH near neutral is between 70 and 80 mg/L as CaCO3.

Proper alkalinity levels for treatment
Alkalinity is a major chemical requirement for nitrification and can be a useful and beneficial tool for use in process control.
 Several things to keep in mind:

  • Alkalinity provides an optimal environment for microscopic organisms whose primary function is to reduce waste.
  • In activated sludge, the desirable microorganisms are those that have the capability, under the right conditions, to clump and form a gelatinous floc that is heavy enough to settle. The formed floc or sludge can be then be characterized as having a sludge volume index.
  • The optimum pH range is between 7.0 and 7.4. Although growth can occur at pH values of 6 to 9, it does so at much reduced rates (see Figures 1 and 2). It is also quite likely that undesirable forms of organisms will form at these ranges and cause bulking problems. The optimal pH for nitrification is 8.0, with nitrification limited below pH 6.0.
  • Oxygen uptake is optimal at a 7.0 to 7.4 pH. Biochemical oxygen demand removal efficiency also decreases as pH moves outside this optimum range.

Please Note: The information provided in this article is designed to be educational. It is not intended to provide any type of professional advice including without limitation legal, accounting, or engineering. Your use of the information provided here is voluntary and should be based on your own evaluation and analysis of its accuracy, appropriateness for your use, and any potential risks of using the information. The Water Environment Federation (WEF), author and the publisher of this article assume no liability of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness of use for a particular purpose. Any references included are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any sources.

Importance of Magnesium for Man, Plant, and Soil

The map shown above (Figure 1) outlines the areas of magnesium deficient soil in the United States. Magnesium deficiency in food and water supplies is becoming a hot topic and has been more widely studied in recent years. Several countries have already begun adding supplemental magnesium to their own water supply.


Magnesium occupies the central position of the chlorophyll molecule, the green pigment which enables plants to utilize solar energy for the production of organic matter (Figure 2).

It is, therefore, not surprising that an adequate Mg supply to plants may act as an activator of important enzymes in phosphorylation, the fundamental process of energy transfer in the plant.


Although the parent materials of some soils may contain very high amounts of magnesium (e.g. basalt, peridotite and dolomite), the total Mg contents of most soils are rather low, namely between 0.05% and 0.5% Mg. Of this amount only a fraction is easily available to the plant, i.e. the magnesium present in the soil solution and the exchangeable Mg absorbed to clay minerals or soil organic matter. High levels of Mg are found in some saline and alkali soils and in soils with a high content of magnesium carbonate. But many of the agricultural soils are low in exchangeable magnesium, particularly those in the humid zones of temperate and tropical climates. High rainfall and soil acidity together with low cation exchange capacity increase the mobility of magnesium and cause heavy losses by leaching. Under these conditions the Mg status of the soils is poor.

In tropical Latin America, for instance, 731 million hectares are deficient in magnesium (or 49% of all soils) mostly classified as Oxisols and Utisols (Ferralsols & Acisols according to the FAO-UNESCO soil map of the world). In Brazil, Mg deficiency symptoms on annual crops have been recorded as frequently as potassium deficiency. In the humid tropics and the wooded savannah of Africa, the soils with low base status which are presently or potentially deficient in Mg cover 44% of the area. In tropical Asia, they amount to 59%.

Usually, soils are considered deficient in plant available magnesium when the content of exchangeable magnesium is below 3-4 mg/100 g of soil. The critical values differ according to the soil texture. They are higher in soils with high content of 2:1 layer clay minerals and high organic matter. An example of Mg soil test rating for the Federal Republic of Germany is given in Table 1.

As for other plant nutrients, the status of available magnesium in the soil cannot be considered independently. It is influenced by the contents of other cations, such as calcium (Ca) and potassium (K), and by the soil acidity (pH). The relationship between Mg deficiency of oats and the pH of sandy soils is illustrated in Figure 3.

The occurrence of Mg deficiency symptoms was lowest at about pH 5, indicating an optimum of Mg availability at this pH range. At lower pH, the uptake of Mg is reduced due to the increased concentration of hydrogen (H) and aluminum (al) ions. In very acid tropical soils, mainly formed by sesquioxides of aluminum and iron, the addition of magnesium fertilizers to the soil reduces Al toxicity. At high soil pH, the competition of Ca ions is responsible for the lower Mg uptake. Regardless of the pH, ammonium (NH4) and potassium (K) affect the uptake of magnesium. Thus, heavy dressings of ammonium sulphate or potassium chloride can aggravate Mg deficiency.


Plants take up magnesium in smaller quantities than potassium, although the contents of exchangeable Mg in the soil and the Mg concentration of the soil solution are often higher than the corresponding values for K. There is antagonism between K and Mg but it seems to be confined to the deficiency range of nutrient availability. Under such conditions, increasing the supply of one nutrient aggravates the deficiency of the other. Usually high contents of Mg can be found in plants deficient in K (plants try to keep the sum of the cations K, Ca, Mg, Na fairly constant). Application of potash fertilizers to correct K deficiency leads to a gradual decrease of magnesium contents in the plant. Provided that the soil is well supplied with available Mg, leaf magnesium will not fall off to dangerously low values but remains above the critical level even at the high K rates needed to exploit the genetic yield potential of the plant (Figure 4).

When both K and Mg are deficient, it is advisable to improve the magnesium status of the soil by adequate Mg fertilizer dressings before applying heavy doses of K.


Magnesium deficiency symptoms are more and more observed not only on Mg defined soils but also on soils originally well supplied with this nutrient. This is due to higher Mg uptake by high yielding crops under intensive cultivation.

If the requirements are not met by the magnesium supply of the soil or by the application of Mg-containing fertilizers, plants will suffer from Mg deficiency and may show deficiency symptoms at various growth stages.

As magnesium is rather mobile and can be easily transported to the actively growing plant parts, Mg deficiency generally first becomes visible on the older leaves. Although the symptoms differ between plant species, some general characteristics are apparent.

Mg deficiency becomes manifest by pale discoloration of the leaves in part or as a whole (chlorosis) while the veins remain green. At a later stage the color of the affected areas changes to yellowish white; they become translucent and then take a dark color and eventually die (necrosis). In most cases the leaves are brittle and premature defoliation is observed, especially in fruit trees (see Figure 5).

Magnesium plays an essential role in the human and animal metabolism. It is a constituent of many enzymes, the key substances that regulate the life processes in the cells and organs of the body. Too low a Magnesium supply may lead to tetany (e.g. grass tetany, a lethal disease of dairy cattle), brain disturbances, muscular cramp, and eventually heart diseases.

Magnesium deficiency can be avoided if a food source contains sufficient Magnesium. The daily requirement is about 0.3-0.4g of Magnesium for an adult person. The magnesium needs of animals differ greatly. A dairy cow may require 3-6 g of magnesium per day, depending on the level of milk production. However, as the utilization of the magnesium contained in the forage is rather low (in young pasture grass only 10%), the actual quantity needed may become as high as 50 grams of magnesium per day or more. To assure an adequate supply of magnesium to dairy cattle, the forage should contain sufficient magnesium, at least 2 grams of magnesium per kg dry matter. The average Magnesium contents of some food and forage materials are given in Table 2.

At Thioguard, we are concerned with all things magnesium, so when we run across information like this we want to share it. There are many parallel benefits that magnesium provides to improve human, animal, and plant health, as well as improving biological water treatment.

Caustic Soda = Volatile Price & Volatile Chemistry


Caustic Soda is a HIGHLY CORROSIVE CHEMICAL listed on the Special Health Hazard Substance List. Caustic Soda on contact can burn the skin and the eyes and can cause permanent lung damage through inhalation. Caustic soda in contact with water can create enough heat to ignite combustibles and the resulting fire will produce poisonous gases. THIOGUARD and THIOGUARD ΩMEGA-S technical grade magnesium hydroxide is an effective, non-hazardous alternative to Caustic Soda. By converting to THIOGUARD, wastewater utilities are able to eliminate hundreds of hazardous bulk tanker truck deliveries, thereby reducing insurance costs.

In addition, Caustic Soda freezes at a temperature of 52 degrees, rendering it useless for water treatment purposes, and creating additional hazards by creating increased pressure at valves with the potential unexpected eruptions or spills. When it comes to safety, Thioguard and Thioguard Omega-S technical grade magnesium hydroxide is clearly superior.

  • Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) is hazardous to use, detrimental to personnel safety and biological processes
  • Sodium addition to wastewater upsets flocculation, settling, clarification and dewatering processes, driving up needs for polymer or metal salt use.


Caustic Soda is pricing is subject to a variety of pressures, from basic supply and demand issues to market manipulation – even international trade can cause price fluctuations. THIOGUARD technical grade magnesium hydroxide offers greater “price reliability,” and delivers a safe and effective alternative to Caustic Soda.

  • Budget Uncertainty
  • Challenging Contract Management when driven to force majeure re-pricing

THIOGUARD Takes the Cake… and Makes it Better.

For a nearly one million gallon a day plant in Lambertville, NJ the good news just kept on coming. First, they started using Thioguard  to condition their primary sludge to reduce odors from the plant. This worked so well, they began to ask, “Where else can Thioguard be applied?”

As the winds whipped in early Spring, it was discovered that a significant amount of odor was coming from the nearly quarter million gallon sludge holding tank at their site. Since Thioguard worked to reduce the primary sludge odors, they wondered if it would work for stored sludge waiting to be pressed.

After establishing a stable pH range of 7.5-8.0 s.u., with just a couple of gallons a day, odors were reduced to satisfactory levels… and then something very interesting happened. Not only were odors in the press building reduced, but the press cake was drier. On average nearly 20-40% drier.

Why? Thioguard is technical grade magnesium hydroxide: a buffered source of alkalinity that is used to increase pH. Elevated pH promotes better polymer performance. Not only that, but due to divalent cation bridging, the press supernatant quality can be clearer as well. Any remaining alkalinity is then returned in the supernatant to the headworks of the plant.

The Lambertville results were recently verified on a much larger scale through bench testing at a treatment plant in Newark, Ohio. The chart below illustrates expected typical annual cost savings in hauling and tipping after the addition of Thioguard at a 100 MGD plant. The bottom line? For every 1% improvement in cake solids, the plant would save approximately $214K in hauling and tipping costs. In multiple tests, the use of Thioguard consistently resulted in 5% to 13% improvement in cake solids with greatly reduced water weight. Drier cake solids means less to haul, and fewer loads translates directly into operational savings.

Nurturing the Brain with Magnesium

Magnesium is everywhere – it does not occur free in nature, only in combination with other elements, but it is the eighth most abundant chemical element in the Earth’s crust and the third most abundant element in seawater; it is even the ninth most abundant in the Milky Way. In the human body, magnesium is the fourth most abundant ion and the eleventh most abundant element by mass, being stored in bones, muscles, and soft tissues.

Magnesium is fundamental for health: it is essential to all cells and to the function of hundreds of enzymes, including enzymes that synthesize DNA and RNA, and enzymes involved in cellular energy metabolism, many of which are vital. Magnesium is involved in virtually every major metabolic and biochemical process in our cells and it plays a critical role in the physiology of basically every single organ.

Low plasma levels of magnesium are common and are mostly due to poor dietary intake, which has lowered significantly in the last decades. Magnesium can be found in high quantities in foods containing dietary fiber, including green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. But although magnesium is widely distributed in vegetable and animal foods, some types of food processing can lower magnesium content up to 90%. Also, the soil used for conventional agriculture is becoming increasingly deprived of essential minerals. In the last 60 years, the magnesium content in fruit and vegetables has decreased by around 20 to 30%.

Symptomatic magnesium deficiency due to low dietary intake in healthy people is not very frequent, but a consistently poor dietary supply of magnesium has insidious effects. Magnesium deficiency alters biochemical pathways and increases the risk of a wide range of diseases over time, namely hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches, for example.

In the brain, magnesium is an important regulator of neurotransmitter signaling, particularly glutamate and GABA, the main neurotransmitters by modulating the activation of NMDA glutamate receptors and GABAA receptors. It also contributes to the maintenance of adequate calcium levels in the cell through the regulation of calcium channels’ activity.

These physiological roles make magnesium an essential element in important neuronal processes. Magnesium participates in the mechanisms of synaptic transmission, neuronal plasticity, and consequently, learning and memory. Accordingly, increased levels of magnesium in the brain have been shown to promote multiple mechanisms of synaptic plasticity that enhance different forms of learning and memory, and delay age-related cognitive decline. Increased levels of magnesium in the brain have also been linked to an increased proliferation of neural stem cells, indicating that it may promote the generation of new neurons (neurogenesis) in adulthood. This is an important feature because neurogenesis is a key mechanism in the brain’s structural and functional adaptability, in cognitive flexibility, and in mood regulation.

Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to modulate the neuroendocrine system and to improve sleep quality by promoting slow wave (deep) sleep, which, among many other functions, is also important for cognition and memory consolidation.

Furthermore, magnesium may enhance the beneficial effects of exercise in the brain, since it has been shown to increase the availability of glucose in the blood, muscle, and brain, and diminish the accumulation of lactate in the blood and muscles during exercise.

But just as increasing magnesium levels can be beneficial, magnesium deficiency can have serious harmful effects.

Magnesium has important roles in the regulation of oxidative stress, inflammatory processes and modulation of brain blood flow. In circumstances of magnesium deficiency, all of these functions can potentially be dysregulated, laying ground for neurological disorders. Also, in a context of low magnesium availability in the brain, NMDA glutamate receptors, which are excitatory, may become excessively activated, and GABAA receptors, which are inhibitory, may become insufficiently activated; this can lead to neuronal hyperactivity and to a condition known as glutamate excitotoxicity. This causes an excessive accumulation of calcium in neurons, which in turn leads to the production of toxic reactive oxygen species and, ultimately, to neuronal cell death.

Magnesium deficiency has been associated with several neurological and psychiatric diseases, including migraine, epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, stress, and neurodegenerative diseases. Magnesium supplementation has shown beneficial effects on many of these conditions, as well as in post-stroke, post-traumatic brain injury, and post-spinal cord injury therapies. This therapeutic action is likely due to its action in blocking NMDA glutamate receptors and decreasing excitotoxicity, in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, and in increasing blood flow to the brain, all of which are determinant in the outcome of these conditions.

There are multiple benefits to be obtained from magnesium, both from a health promotion, and from a disease prevention and management perspective. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is of 320mg for females and 420mg for males. Too much magnesium from food sources has no associated health risks in healthy individuals because the kidneys readily eliminate the excess. However, there is a recommended upper intake level for supplemental magnesium, since it can cause gastrointestinal side effects. So, keep it below 350mg/day.

The Solution to Your F.O.G. Problem is Thioguard

The accumulation of fats, oils, and grease can be dramatically reduced through the use of THIOGUARD technical grade magnesium hydroxide. THIOGUARD is a strong base, and a moderate pH adjuster, which adds non-carbonate alkalinity to the wastewater. As pH increases, fats, oils, and grease become more soluble. The practical effect on municipal wastewater systems is a rapid, dramatic reduction in fat, oils, and grease buildup within the collection, transport and treatment structures.

transfer F.O.G. problems “downstream,”
only to reappear in your plant.

THIOGUARD eliminates the problem, by improving the immediate environment, allowing “good bacteria” to perform their function. By the time the wastewater reaches your reclamation facility, the majority of the F.O.G. has been either consumed or reduced to simpler organics.

The addition of THIOGUARD boosts pH levels, THROUGHOUT your system, PREVENTING the conditions that encourage the deposition of grease, which can clog lines, and accumulate on the surface of pump stations and your treatment plant.
With improved pH, solubility is increased significantly, by a factor of 10x in some cases. THIOGUARD is typically added through a single Feed Unit, and provides multiple benefits throughout your system, from source to discharge.

THIOGUARD provides the greatest power to neutralize acid over long infrastructure distances, while providing additional benefits to your waste water treatment plant’s biological treatment processes. The chart below compares alkalinity per gallon, illustrating the superiority of THIOGUARD against other commonly used treatment options.

THIOGUARD Cuts through F.O.G. and Delivers
Multiple System-Wide Benefits

The benefits of adding THIOGUARD to your treatment processes are not limited to the prevention or reduction of F.O.G., through sustainable and balanced pH levels. THIOGUARD also prevents corrosion and dramatically reduces the formation of sludge – significantly reducing your handling and transportation costs. The benefits are numerous and system-wide, making THIOGUARD the best and most practical choice for your system.

Thioguard vs. Nitrates Do Nitrates Do More Harm Than Good?


Calcium Nitrate products are commonly used in many of the nation’s wastewater collection systems, and they supposedly do one thing – prevent H2S odors. Unfortunately, there are multiple costly and problematic unintended consequences of the use of nitrate products. In addition, while nitrate use may temporarily address H2S odor problems, nitrate products are of little or no use in combating corrosion, which is a tremendous problem both in-plant and throughout every segment of wastewater treatment infrastructure.

where you don’t want them to occur.
Think denitrification…which consumes organics, and produces nitrogen gas N2 and carbon dioxide CO2, all seemingly innocuous by-products of Calcium Nitrate’s intended use as an odor control technology…but let’s take a closer look…

1. Nitrates contribute to the formation of F.O.G.
The addition of nitrates contributes to the accumulation of an odorous film, often referred to as a F.O.G. (Fats, Oils and Grease) mat in pumping stations and at your plant. Blockages associated with F.O.G. have been shown to be the greatest contributors to O&M costs including energy consumption, maintenance costs, and Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs).

2. Nitrates contribute to Gas Binding in the Collection System
The transfer of wastewater can result in the release of gases such as O2 – Oxygen, CO2 – Carbon Dioxide, N2 – Nitrogen Gas, H2S – Hydrogen Sulfide, CH4 – Methane, VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds, and VOSCs – Volatile Organic Sulfur Compounds, among others. Some of these gases are drawn into the system through pumping and ventilation, while others are generated within the system either chemically or biologically. These gases can result in the development of gas binding in the system, and are dramatically exacerbated with the utilization of calcium nitrate.

3. Nitrates upset the Bio-P process at your plant
The use of nitrates in the collection system alter the chemical and biological conditions of the collection system, which would otherwise facilitate the formation and transport of VFAs to the treatment plant, where they can be used by PAOs in Bio-P processes.

As VFAs (Volatile Fatty Acids) are eliminated with calcium nitrate addition, VFAs are therefore not available for PAOs (phosphorus accumulating organisms) for phosphate removal at the wastewater treatment plant.

4. Nitrates negatively impact Primary and Secondary Clarification
The addition of nitrates is not an exact science, and unfortunately, every step along the way there are costly unintended consequences. Add too little, and you’re facing odor problems. Add too much, and you’re faced with the formation of unwanted bubble-forming gases (N2 and CO2 from denitrification) in your settling tank, exactly where you DON’T WANT IT, continuing the formation of F.O.G. mat, (as well as creating an environment unfavorable to your biological processes). This often results in increased metal salts usage or increased polymer usage and associated increases in costs.

Calcium Nitrate has a short half-life in sewers, and therefore many addition locations are required to achieve adequate system-wide control. This requires several addition locations, and corresponding higher costs and operational oversight. In contrast, a single THIOGUARD Feed Unit can often replace several nitrate feed stations, and maintain a relatively constant pH level throughout.

Maintaining a constant surface pH of 6-8 can reduce the rate of corrosion by as much as 100X. The cost of simply ignoring this problem is monumental and THIOGUARD is the only commonly used product that has a direct mechanism to increase surface pH and prevent corrosion.


  • Decrease maintenance costs
  • Decrease operating power costs
  • Decrease F.O.G. related SSOs and ARV malfunction
  • Improve efficiency due to reduced discharge pressure in manifolded force mains
  • Improve Biosolids
  • Save money and improve plant performance ACROSS THE BOARD!

Enhance Phosphate Treatment with THIOGUARD

In plants currently using metal salts, the addition of
THIOGUARD® technical grade magnesium hydroxide can

Increased regulation of total phosphorus limits are a fact of life, and another challenge for WWT plant operators and engineers. In most treatment plants, metal salts (ferrous/ferric or aluminum) are added for the treatment of phosphates.

Adding THIOGUARD technical grade magnesium hydroxide will:

  • Minimize or eliminate the addition of metal salts
  • Enhance biological phosphorus uptake in bioreactors
  • Reduce the amount of metal-laden sludge
  • Increase agricultural phosphate recovery
  • Reduce dewatering, handling and transportation costs
  • Eliminate the need for expensive plant upgrades

THIOGUARD is specifically formulated for maximum alkalinity
and magnesium utilization in biological processes, enhancing the
performance of metal salts in removing phosphates chemically –
while simultaneously improving biological uptake in bioreactors.

THIOGUARD improves plant performance
Improved plant performance =
Significant Savings

Thioguard is engineered to provide maximum magnesium hydroxide and sustained alkaline utilization, enhancing the formation of metal hydroxide precipitate and increasing the adsorption of soluble phosphorus.

The benefits of adding THIOGUARD to your treatment processes are not limited to enhanced phosphorus treatment and management. In addition, THIOGUARD is the ONLY commonly used product that has a direct mechanism to prevent corrosion through sustainable and balanced pH levels. You will also benefit from a reduction in the formation of metal-laden sludge – significantly reducing your handling and transportation costs. The benefits are numerous and system-wide, making THIOGUARD
the practical choice for your entire system.

Magnesium’s Impact on Vitamin D Intake

The influence that magnesium has on the way our bodies process vitamin D has big implications for bone health. The studies suggest that taking a magnesium supplement can help people reach their desired level of vitamin D faster. Not only can they reach that level faster, but magnesium may also more effectively facilitate the actions of vitamin D on bone health. An additional 200 mg of magnesium is all it should take to get the average person up to an adequate intake.13% improvement in cake solids with greatly reduced water weight. Drier cake solids means less to haul, and fewer loads translates directly into operational savings.

  • Magnesium is important in regulating levels of vitamin D.

  • Many Americans fail to get enough magnesium as well
    as vitamin D in their diet.

  • Improving levels of both minerals could improve bone strength
    and lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

For more information about the health benefits of Magnesium click here

Thioguard is the Right Tool for Wastewater Treatment Applications

One Unique Product, Many Problems Solved

Harness the versatility and power of Thioguard for optimal treatment and maximum resource recovery, in addition to odor control and corrosion prevention.


Phosphorus-Removal | Nitrogen-Removal

Thioguard added at the plant or collection system is the only odor control strategy that can have positive influence on a BNR process.


Digestion | CH4 Methane Production Enhanced DewateringThioguard added to the collection system or sludge digestion process improves the digestion and dewatering processes at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.


BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) | TSS (Total Suspended Solids)
NH3 (Ammonia) | Phosphorus | FOG

Thioguard is the only liquid phase treatment, when used in the collection system,
that can enhance the treatment process at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Odors | Corrosion | FOG (Fats, Oil, Grease) | Air Relief

Customers can “dial in” the desired level of treatment. Optimal acid neutralization prevents premature infrastructure corrosion and/or replacement, and adds numerous benefits downstream. Thioguard can reduce FOG related SSOs. Thioguard has been proven to reduce pumping costs on long force mains.