History of Wastewater Treatment: From Hippocratic Sleeve to Activated Sludge

History of Wastewater Treatment: From Hippocratic Sleeve to Activated Sludge

Nowadays wastewater treatment plants are large, complex facilities that use multiple technologies to remove up to 99% of all pollutants in wastewater. Our standards for clean water are continuously rising and not one day passes by without new innovations for wastewater treatment.


But wastewater treatment was not always this advanced. So, let’s have a look when the first wastewater treatment plant was invented and which steps it took to develop todays wastewater standards.

Early water treatment was primarily focused on the aesthetic properties of water, taste and odor. The first simple wastewater treatment process was found in writings from ancient Greece around 1500 B.C.. The findings indicate that boiling and filtering water through charcoal were used along with exposing the water to sunlight and straining.

At the same time the ancient Egyptians were the first people to separate clean water from its contaminants, through the use of coagulants such as alum. Alum is positively charged and attracts therefore negatively charged particles in the water. Over time alum and particles form bigger flocs that settle down.  Proofs of this early technology were found on the Tomb of Ramses 2th. The right person in this picture is adding alum to a water tank whereas the second person on the left is blowing into a tube to ensure a good water mixing and he is leading cleaned water into a boiler. Alum is still a commonly used coagulant in modern wastewater treatment.

Read the whole article on Aqua Equip Blog.