S.15 Anaerobic Filter

An An aerobic Filter (AF) can efficiently treat many different types of wastewater. An AF is a fixed-bed biological reactor with one or more filtration chambers in series. As wastewater flows through the filter, particles are trapped and organic matter is degraded by the active biofilm that is attached to the surface of the filter material.Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
A mechanical separation process using a porous medium (e.g., cloth, paper, sand bed, or mixed media bed) that captures particulate material and permits the liquid or gaseous fraction to pass through. The size of the pores of the medium determines what is captured and what passes through.Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

This technology is widely used as a secondary treatment for black or greywater and improves the solid removal compared to Septic Tanks S.13 or An aerobic Baffled Reactors S.14 . The treatment process is an aerobic making use of biological treatment mechanisms. Suspended solids and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) removal can be up to 90 %, but is typically between 50 % and 80 %. Nitrogen removal is limited and normally does not exceed 15 % in terms of total nitrogen.

Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Describes biological processes that
occur in the absence of oxygen.
Total volume of water generated from washing food, clothes and dishware, as well as from bathing, but not from toilets (see blackwater). It may also contain traces of excreta (e.g. from washing diapers) and, therefore, some pathogens. Greywater accounts for approximately 65 % of the wastewater produced in households with flush toilets.A measure of the amount of oxygen used by microorganisms
to degrade organic matter in water over time (expressed in mg/L and normally measured over five days as BOD5). It is an indirect measure of the amount of biodegradable organic material present in water or wastewater: the more the organic content, the more oxygen is required to degrade it (high BOD).
Any cellular or non-cellular microbiological entity capable of replication or of transferring genetic material (e.g. bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae or fungi).
An organism or other agent that causes disease.A diverse group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms, including amoeba, ciliates, and flagellates. Some can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses.
Follows primary treatment to achieve the removal of biodegradable organic matter and suspended solids from effluent. Nutrient removal (e.g., phosphorus) and disinfection can be included in the definition of secondary treatment or tertiary treatment, depending on the configuration.
Describes the conditions under which putrefaction and anaerobic digestion take place.
Follows secondary treatment to achieve enhanced removal of pollutants from effluent. Nutrient removal (e.g., phosphorus) and disinfection can be included in the definition of secondary treatment or tertiary treatment, depending on the configuration. See POST
User interface used for urination and defecation. An infectious agent consisting of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and a protein coat. Viruses can only replicate in the cells of a living host. Some pathogenic viruses are known to be waterborne (e.g., the rotavirus that can cause diarrheal disease).
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Design Considerations

Pre-Treatment (PRE) is essential to remove solids and solid waste that may clog the filter. The majority of settleable solids are removed in a sedimentation chamber in front of the AF. Small-scale, standalone units typically have an integrated settling compartment, but primary sedimentation can also take place in a separate Settler T.1 or another preceding technology, e.g. Septic Tank S.13 . AFs are usually operated in upflow mode because there is less risk that the fixed biomass will be washed out and treatment efficiency reduced. The water level should cover the filter media by at least 0.3 m to guarantee an even-flow regime. The hydraulic retention time (HRT) is the most important design parameter influencing filter performance and a HRT of 12–36 hours is recommended. The ideal filter should have a large surface area for bacteria to grow, with large pore volume to prevent clogging. The surface area ensures increased contact between organic matter and attached biomass that effectively degrades it. Ideally, the material should provide between 90 to 300 m2 of surface area/m3 of occupied reactor volume. The connection between chambers can be designed either with vertical pipes or baffles. Accessibility to all chambers (through access ports) is necessary for maintenance. The tank should be vented to allow for controlled release of odorous and potentially harmful gases. Where kitchen wastewater is connected to the system, a grease trap must be incorporated into the design before the Settler.

Refers to plants or animals grown using the water and/or nutrients flowing through a sanitation system. The term biomass may include fish, insects, vegetables, fruit, forage or other beneficial crops that can be utilised for food, feed, fibre and fuel production.A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. Simple, single cell organisms that are found everywhere on earth. They are essential for maintaining life and performing essential “services”, such as composting, aerobic degradation
of waste, and digesting food in our intestines. Some types, however, can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses. Bacteria obtain nutrients from their environment by excreting enzymes that dissolve complex molecules into more simple ones which can then pass through the cell membrane.

The process by which biodegradable components are biologically decomposed by microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) under controlled aerobic conditions.
The average amount of time that liquid and soluble compounds
stay in a reactor or tank.
Any cellular or non-cellular microbiological entity capable of replication or of transferring genetic material (e.g. bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae or fungi).
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.A diverse group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms, including amoeba, ciliates, and flagellates. Some can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Gravity settling of particles in a liquid such that they accumulate. Describes the conditions under which putrefaction and anaerobic digestion take place.
An infectious agent consisting of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and a protein coat. Viruses can only replicate in the cells of a living host. Some pathogenic viruses are known to be waterborne (e.g., the rotavirus that can cause diarrheal disease).
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Materials

An AF can be made of concrete, sand, gravel, cement, steel, as well as fibreglass, PVC or plastic and can be prefabricated. Typical filter material should ideally range from 12 to 55 mm in diameter, decreasing in diameter from bottom to top. Filter materials commonly used include gravel, crushed rocks or bricks, cinder, pumice, shredded glass or specially-formed plastic pieces (even crushed PVC plastic bottles can be used).

Applicability

AFs are not suitable for the acute response stage of an emergency because the biological environment within the AF takes time to establish. AFs are more suited for stabilisation and recovery periods, and are longterm solutions. The neighbourhood scale is most suitable, but AFs can also be implemented at the household level,in larger catchment areas or in public buildings (e.g. schools). Even though AFs are watertight, it is not recommended to construct them in areas with high groundwater tables or where there is frequent flooding. However, prefabricated modules can be placed above ground. AFs can be installed in every type of climate, although efficiency will be lower in colder climates. Pathogen and nutrient reduction is low in AFs; if high effluent standards are to be achieved, an additional treatment technology should be added, e.g. the An aerobic Baffled Reactor S.14 , Waste Stabilisation Ponds T.5 or Constructed Wetlands T.6 .

Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Describes biological processes that
occur in the absence of oxygen.
General term for a liquid that leaves a technology, typically after blackwater or sludge has undergone solids separation or some other type of treatment. Effluent originates at either a collection and storage or a (semi-) centralised treatment technology. Depending on the type of treatment, the effluent may be completely sanitised or may require further treatment before it can be used or disposed of.Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
Water that is located beneath the earth’s surface.
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
The degradation of organic matter with the goal of reducing readily biodegradable compounds to lessen environmental impacts (e.g., oxygen depletion, nutrient leaching).
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Operation and Maintenance

An AF requires a start-up period of 6 to 9 months to reach full treatment capacity since the slow-growing an aerobic biomass first needs to be established on the filter media. To reduce start-up time, the filter can be inoculated with an aerobic bacteria, e.g. by spraying Septic Tank sludge onto the filter material. The flow should be gradually increased over time. Scum and sludge levels need to be monitored to ensure that the tank is functioning well. Over time, solids will clog the pores of the filter. Also the growing bacterial mass can become too thick, break off and eventually clog pores. When the efficiency decreases, the filter must be cleaned. This is done by running the system in reverse mode (backwashing) or by removing and cleaning the filter material. AF tanks should be checked from time to time to ensure that they are watertight.

Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Refers to plants or animals grown using the water and/or nutrients flowing through a sanitation system. The term biomass may include fish, insects, vegetables, fruit, forage or other beneficial crops that can be utilised for food, feed, fibre and fuel production.Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. Simple, single cell organisms that are found everywhere on earth. They are essential for maintaining life and performing essential “services”, such as composting, aerobic degradation
of waste, and digesting food in our intestines. Some types, however, can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses. Bacteria obtain nutrients from their environment by excreting enzymes that dissolve complex molecules into more simple ones which can then pass through the cell membrane.

The process by which biodegradable components are biologically decomposed by microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) under controlled aerobic conditions.
The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
Any cellular or non-cellular microbiological entity capable of replication or of transferring genetic material (e.g. bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae or fungi).
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.A diverse group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms, including amoeba, ciliates, and flagellates. Some can be pathogenic and cause mild to severe illnesses.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
An infectious agent consisting of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and a protein coat. Viruses can only replicate in the cells of a living host. Some pathogenic viruses are known to be waterborne (e.g., the rotavirus that can cause diarrheal disease).
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Health and Safety

Effluent, scum and sludge must be handled with care as the effluent still contains pathogens and should be treated further if reused in agriculture, directly used for fertilisation and irrigation or discharged properly. Full personal protective equipment must be worn during the desludging and cleaning of the AF.

General term for a liquid that leaves a technology, typically after blackwater or sludge has undergone solids separation or some other type of treatment. Effluent originates at either a collection and storage or a (semi-) centralised treatment technology. Depending on the type of treatment, the effluent may be completely sanitised or may require further treatment before it can be used or disposed of.Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The process of removing the accumulated sludge from a storage or treatment facility.
The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.Use of recycled water or other sanitation products.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

The layer of solids formed by wastewater constituents that float to the surface of a tank or reactor (e.g., oil and grease).
Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Costs

The capital cost of an AF is medium and the operational costs are low. The costs of the AF depend on the conveyance technology and treatment used, and also on local availability and thus costs of construction materials (sand, gravel, cement, steel), or cost of the prefabricated modules, and labor costs. The main operation and maintenance costs are related to the removal of primary sludge and cost of electricity if pumps are required for discharge (in the absence of the gravity flow option).

Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Describes the transport of products from one functional group to another. Although products may need to be transferred in various ways between functional groups, the longest, and most important gap is usually between the user interface or collection and storage/treatment and (semi-) centralised treatment. Therefore, for simplicity, conveyance only describes the technologies used to transport products between these two functional groups. In the technology overview graphic, the conveyance functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Emptying and Transport” and “Intermediate Storage”. This allows for a more detailed classification of each of the listed conveyance technologies.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Social Considerations

Usually, AF treatment systems are a well-accepted technology. Because of the delicate ecology in the system, awareness raising on eliminating the use of harsh chemicals for the users is necessary.

Fact Sheet Overview

Input Products

Blackwater
Greywater

Output Products

Effluent
Sludge

Emergency Phase

Stabilisation +
Recovery + +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Application Level / Scale

Household +
Neighbourhood + +

Water-based and Dry Technologies

Water-Based

Management Level

Household +
Shared + +
Public + +

Technical Complexity

Space Required

Objectives & Key Features

• Excreta containment
• BOD reduction

Strength & Weakness

  • Low O & M requirements and costs
  • Robust and stable treatment performance (Resistant to organic and hydraulic shock loadings)
  • No electrical energy is required
  • High reduction of BOD and solids
  • Limited reduction of pathogens and nutrients
  • Requires expert design and construction
  • Removing and cleaning the clogged filter media is cumbersome
  • Long start-up time
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