The Living Machine
Living Machine Systems, L3C
The Living Machine is a form of ecological sewage treatment that mimics a natural wetland system, marketed by Living Machine Systems, L3C.
The Living Machine is a form of ecological sewage treatment based on the principles of wetland ecology, pioneered by US ecological designer Dr. John Todd in the 1970’s. The Living Machine is designed and marketed by Living Machine Systems, L3C in Charlottesville, VA, USA. The Living Machine uses engineering, plants, and bacteria to efficiently treat and reuse wastewater.
This product is distributed by Living Water Systems, L3C.
Approximately 1,000,000 USD. Market price is dependant on the size and requirements of the site.
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
The Living Machine is applicable to rural, suburban and urban environments, various scales and climates to treat municipal and some industrial wastewaters.
Tidal process patented.
This product can be acquired by contacting the manufacturer.
The exact number of distributions is unknown, however, Living Machine Systems, L3C state the Living Machine System has been installed in 30 locations globally.
Flow rate of the equipment
Type of wastewater treatment process
How effective is the process at BOD removal?
How effective is the process at COD removal?
How effective is the process at NH4-N removal?
How effective is the process at total suspended solid removal?
How effective is the process at total phosphorus removal?
How effective is the process at fecal coliform removal?
The Living Machine is made up of several components to mimic the process of natural coastal wetlands. The patented tidal-flow technology pumps wastewater into ‘tidal-flow’ wetland cells (gravel filled planters) which are flooded and drained to oxygenate the wastewater. The process is as follows:
- Primary tank: Untreated wastewater enters to allow solids to settle and degrade before being pumped to the next stage.
- Stage 1 Tidal Flow Wetland Cells: these aggregate media-filled planters are alternately drained and filled up to 18 times per day. Biofilms, made from microscopic plants and animals, consume the waste in the wastewater.
- Stage 2 Tidal Flow Wetland Cells: a portion of water moves to Stage 2 and undergoes the same process, where smaller treatment media provides faster treatment.
- Polishing System: water undergoes final polishing and treatment such as dual-stage filtration, UV disinfection and/or chlorine disinfection.
- Reuse Tank: treated water enters the reuse tank before moving on to different reuse applications.
Provided by the manufacturer.
The manufacturer specifies the following as performance targets:
- Low Capital Cost
- Energy Efficient
- Low operation and maintenance expenses
- Small footprint
- Good reuse quality
The Living Machine is capable of tertiary treatment, which requires low costs to operate and doesn’t require chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
The US EPA has tested the use of constructed wetland technology performance for BOD (<30 mg/L) and TSS (<30 mg/L) removal.
Wastewater must be handled, treated and disposed of in accordance with hygiene and environmental standards before reuse.
The Living Machine is a modular system. Additional wastewater treatment modules and storage can be implemented to meet the site requirements.
Austin, D., 2006, Influence of cation exchange capacity (CEC) in a tidal flow, flood and drain wastewater treatment wetland, Ecological Engineering, 28, pp. 35-45.
Behrends, L., et al., 2007, Integrated constructed wetland systems: design, operation, and performance of low-cost decentralized wastewater treatment systems, Water Science Technology, 55, pp. 155-161.
Austin, D., Nivala, J., 2009, Energy requirements for nitrification and biological nitrogen removal in engineered wetlands, Ecological Engineering, 35, pp. 184-192.
The Living Machine is in compliance with US EPA, EPA/625/R-99/010 standards for constructed wetlands treatment of municipal wastewaters.
Living Machine cites high quality treated water for reuse as evaluation criteria.
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