Aerobic System

Aerobic treatment systemt

An aerobic treatment system or ATS, often called (incorrectly) an aerobic septic system, is a small scale sewage treatment system similar to a septic tank system, but which uses an aerobic process for digestion rather than just the anaerobic process used in septic systems. These systems are commonly found in rural areas where public sewers are not available, and may be used for a single residence or for a small group of homes.

Unlike the traditional septic system, the aerobic treatment system produces a high quality secondary effluent, which can be sterilized and used for surface irrigation. This allows much greater flexibility in the placement of the leach field, as well as cutting the required size of the leach field by as much as half


Pre-treatment stage to remove large solids and other undesirable substances from the wastewater; this stage acts much like a septic system, and an ATS may be added to an existing septic tank to further process the primary effluent. Aeration stage, where the aerobic bacteria digest the biological wastes in the wastewater. Settling stage to allow any undigested solids to settle. This forms a sludge which must be periodically removed from the system. Disinfecting stage, where chlorine or similar disinfectant is mixed with the water, to produce an antiseptic output.

Types of aerobic treatment systems

Fixed film systems

Fixed film systems use a porous medium which provides a bed to support the biomass film that digests the waste material in the wastewater. Designs for fixed film systems vary widely, but fall into two basic categories (though some systems may combine both methods). The first is a system where the media is moved relative to the wastewater, alternately immersing the film and exposing it to air, while the second uses a stationary media, and varies the wastewater flow so the film is alternately submerged and exposed to air. In both cases, the biomass must be exposed to both wastewater and air for the aerobic digestion to occur. The film itself may be made of any suitable porous material, such as formed plastic or peat moss. Simple systems use stationary media, and rely on intermittent, gravity driven wastewater flow to provide periodic exposure to air and wastewater. A common moving media system is the rotating biological contactor (RBC), which uses disks rotating slowly on a horizontal shaft. Approximately 40 percent of the disks are submerged at any given time, and the shaft rotates at a rate of one or two revolutions per minute.

Continuous flow, suspended growth aerobic systems

CFSGAS systems, as the name imply, are designed to handle continuous flow, and do not provide a bed for a bacterial film, relying rather on bacteria suspended in the wastewater. The suspension and aeration are typically provided by an air pump, which pumps air through the aeration chamber, providing a constant stirring of the wastewater in addition to the oxygenation. A medium to promote fixed film bacterial growth may be added to some systems designed to handle higher than normal levels of biomass in the wastewater.

Retrofit or portable aerobic systems

Another increasingly common use of aerobic treatment is for the remediation of failing or failed anaerobic septic systems, by retrofitting an existing system with an aerobic feature. This class of product, known as aerobic remediation, is designed to remediate biologically failed and failing anaerobic distribution systems by significantly reducing the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) and total suspended solids (TSS) of the effluent. The reduction of the BOD5 and TSS reverses the developed bio-mat. Further, effluent with high dissolved oxygen and aerobic bacteria flow to the distribution component and digest the bio-mat.