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Title:
A SEPTIC EFFLUENT TREATMENT VESSEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/075517
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to the field of biological processing of waste and provides a septic effluent treatment vessel comprising a septic effluent inlet for receiving septic effluent and having a surface, at least a portion of which is permeable to liquids. The septic effluent treatment vessel is configured to, upon installation, be at least partially buried underground or covered with ground material such that a cavity is formed in fluid connection with the liquid permeable surface such that liquids can be emitted from the vessel into the cavity.

Inventors:
MESROBIAN HRAND ARMEN (AU)
Application Number:
PCT/AU2018/051124
Publication Date:
April 25, 2019
Filing Date:
October 17, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MESROBIAN HRAND ARMEN (AU)
International Classes:
C02F3/30
Foreign References:
US20110284477A12011-11-24
US6821424B12004-11-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LACHLAN MULLANE (AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAI MS

1. A septic effluent treatment vessel comprising a septic effluent inlet for receiving septic effluent and having a surface, at least a portion of which is permeable to liquids;

wherein the septic effluent treatment vessel is configured to, upon installation, be at least partially buried underground or covered with ground material such that a cavity is formed in fluid connection with the liquid permeable surface such that liquids can be emitted from the vessel into the cavity.

2. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 wherein a base layer is formed in the ground material proximal to the vessel, the base layer is configured to act as an infiltrative surface; and

the liquid-permeable surface is arranged to emit the liquid such that formation of a bio-mat within the base layer is induced.

3. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 wherein the cavity is at least partially formed within the base layer; and

the base layer is in contact with at least a portion of the liquid permeable surface.

4. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising a filtering media within the vessel, being configured to filter out and retain a portion of a solid or semi-solid component of the septic effluent that passes over the filtering media.

5. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 4 wherein the filtering media is at least partially held within a bag, mesh, sack or net.

6. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 4 wherein the filtering media is elevated within the vessel so as to provide a gap between the filtering media and the liquid permeable surface.

7. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 , further comprising:

a first chamber, having the septic effluent inlet and containing filtering media to filter out and retain a portion of a solid component of the septic effluent that passes over the filtering media, while a liquid component of the septic effluent exits the first chamber; and

a second chamber being in fluid communication with the first chamber and configured to enable the liquid component to enter the second chamber and to clarify, such that a further portion of the solid component of septic effluent is retained within the second chamber;

wherein a clarified liquid component of the septic effluent exits the second chamber through the liquid permeable surface.

8. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 7, further comprising an effluent dispersion tray arranged such that septic effluent that enters the vessel through the septic effluent inlet passes into the tray is substantially dispersed across the filtering media of the first chamber.

9. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising at least one wick arranged to, upon installation, provide fluid communication between a portion of the ground material within which the vessel is at least partially buried or covered and at least one of a portion of the vessel, the base layer and the cavity.

10. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising at least one slot arranged to, upon installation, enable emission of at least a portion of septic effluent into a portion of the ground within which the vessel is at least partially buried or covered.

11. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 10 further comprising a filtration means configured to inhibit a solid component of the septic effluent from being emitted through the at least one slot.

12. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 11 wherein the filtration means is selected from one or more of a liquid-permeable membrane, a filtration mesh, a woven fabric, a non-woven fabric and a geotextile fabric.

13. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising a maintenance opening arranged to, following installation, provide access to one or more of a portion of the vessel and the base layer.

14. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising at least one aeration channel arranged to provide air to one or more of a portion of the vessel and a portion of the base layer, such that aerobic breakdown of an organic component of the septic effluent is induced, encouraged or otherwise supported.

15. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 14 further comprising a powered air source arranged to direct air into the at least one aeration channel.

16. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising at least one spray nozzle arranged to direct pressurised fluid onto a portion of the vessel.

17. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising at least one outer spray nozzle arranged to direct pressurised fluid onto a portion of an outer surface of the vessel.

18. The septic effluent treatment vessel of claim 1 further comprising an insulating layer covering at least a portion of the vessel.

Description:
A SEPTIC EFFLUENT TREATMENT VESSEL TECHNI CAL Fl ELD

[0001 ] The present invention relates to the field of biological processing of waste. In particular, the present invention relates to a vessel adapted to hold and process blackwater and greywater waste, and to provide for the development and control of a bio-mat for filtration of septic effluent prior to releasing of water back into the environment.

PRIORITY

[0002] The present application claims priority from Australian Provisional Application AU 2017904187, filed on 17 October 2017, the content of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Prior art biological septic and wastewater treatment systems are well known, as are the various problems that may occur.

[0004] When building a home or commercial building in an un-sewered region, a suitably sized septic tank is typically installed to receive all waste and wastewater from the building. In a septic treatment system comprising a prior art septic tank, light solids float to the top to form a spongy scum layer which acts as an air seal to create an anaerobic conditions as well as prevent odours escaping from the tank. The anaerobic conditions help in the breakdown of the sewage by anaerobic bacteria which converts the waste matter into effluent and sludge. The sludge sinks to the bottom of the tank to form a sludge layer which eventually has to be pumped out, and the effluent which exits the tank is carried to an absorption field by drainage pipes for further treatment and subsurface disposal.

[0005] The most common cause of problems and failures of prior art septic treatment systems lies with the principal soil infrastructural component - known by a range of terms such as absorption bed, drainage bed and similar - which is a designated area wherein effluent from a septic tank is released into the soil. [0006] Typically, a trench or bed in an absorption field consists of a slotted or drilled 100mm diameter distribution pipe which receives the effluent from the septic tank. The pipe is usually surrounded by gravel placed on top of existing or imported soil and a geotextile fabric cover is positioned over the gravel to stop the incursion of soil deposited over the fabric. Vegetation, normally grass, is planted over the entire trench or bed to aid the evaporation process. As the effluent is distributed throughout the pipe, it exits via the slots or holes of the pipe and trickles through the gravel and soil below.

[0007] A properly designed septic tank should retain all solids and provide some purification of the effluent before the effluent enters the absorption bed. The effluent, however, still contains dissolved pollutants and nutrients as well as disease causing pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

[0008] With reference to Figure 1, being a depiction of one form of prior art septic tank, there can be seen a septic inflow and septic outflow, which are common to the majority of prior art septic systems. The septic outflow leads to a distribution line which is generally a pipe that distributes septic effluent liquid, comprising pollutants, nutrients and other dissolved organics, into the absorption bed. The principle function of the absorption bed is to reduce biological solids, semi-solids and the deleterious substances mentioned above before the absorption of liquids by soils and subsequent treatment. Natural soil processes remove some bacteria and viruses as the effluent filters through the soils and, some of the nutrients that cause pollution are absorbed by soil particles and taken up by plants nearby. For these processes to work effectively, unsaturated conditions in the soil is of paramount importance.

[0009] Over time, and because of the repeated contact of the effluent with the gravel or soil, a natural biological mat or bio-mat of a greyish black/black jellylike bacterial growth comprising anaerobic microorganisms and their by-products, develops beneath the distribution lines. The filtering process through the gravel, soil and bio-mat, helps remove some or all pathogens, toxins and other pollutants. Over time, the bio-mat, which is also an important additional filtration process, grows, thickens and spreads over the infiltrative surface/s of the trench or bed. [0010] Ordinarily, natural processes within the soil may act to limit the growth of the bio-mat. The bio-mat growth may also eventually reach equilibrium with the septic treatment system, such that the nutrients and organic matter provided by the septic treatment system are sufficient to maintain the current bio-mat density, but are insufficient to enable growth beyond the equilibrium point.

[0011] However, in cases wherein equilibrium is either not reached or is disturbed (due to natural soil processes, heavy rainfall, local construction, increased usage of the septic treatment system, etc.) then bio-mat growth may be encouraged.

[0012] The consequence of this is a clogging of the waste processing media and the rapid growth of bio-mat beyond a critical point. As the constituents of the bio- mat are hydrophobic, beyond the 'critical point' the bio-mat density will be sufficient to impede the flow of liquids from the septic treatment system. As a result, wastewater may either flow back up the drainage pipes leading into the home, or percolate to the soil surface, potentially creating a health hazard and also possibly polluting any nearby waterways.

[0013] It is well documented that the maintenance of sewage treatment and disposal systems is the key to achieving and maintaining consistent performance and preserving the longevity of the systems. This applies to both a conventional means of sub-surface treatment and disposal, or an advanced treatment and disposal system.

[0014] In the case of a conventional bed or trench, apart from pumping out a fully gravel or soil encased pipe in the trench, maintenance is virtually impossible due to the lack of access to the waste-processing biologically active media for wash-down and rejuvenation purposes. This is because the biologically-active media forming the bio-mat is interspersed in the ground surrounding the trench.

[0015] For prior art septic treatment systems, a failed or failing bed or trench is usually fixed by having to install a new trench or by installing an advanced system, typically at great cost to the property owner. It is quite common for pipes in conventional beds to be clogged with soil and tree roots, the latter obviously based on the location of the trench. This event renders the delivery pipe useless for transporting effluent along the beds.

[0016] Among other maintenance functions, one of the main reasons systems fail is the lack of proper management of the sludge by-product, which is generated automatically as part of the breakdown of organic matter in the effluent by either aerobic or anaerobic means. Sludge, if not periodically removed, will clog the voids in the system media, thus lessening the available surface area for the bio-active treatment processes to continue. If discharged directly on or into soil, sludge clogs the pores of the soil, which affects the rate of filtration of effluent by the soil. In advanced systems, management of sludge control and disposal relies on expensive mechanical and electrical means to be achieved.

[0017] It is therefore an object of the present invention to seek to ameliorate or eliminate the problems inherent in the prior art or to at least provide the public with a safer and less costly solution to treatment and disposal of wastewater, including liquefied effluent.

SUMMARY OF I NVENTI ON

[0018] In a first aspect, the invention provides a septic effluent treatment vessel comprising a septic effluent inlet for receiving septic effluent and having a surface, at least a portion of which is permeable to liquids. The septic effluent treatment vessel is configured to, upon installation, be at least partially buried underground or covered with ground material such that a cavity is formed in fluid connection with the liquid permeable surface such that liquids can be emitted from the vessel into the cavity.

[0019] In an embodiment, a base layer is formed in the ground material proximal to the vessel. The base layer is preferably configured to act as an infiltrative surface, and the liquid-permeable surface is arranged to emit the liquid such that formation of a bio-mat within the base layer is induced.

[0020] In an embodiment, the cavity is at least partially formed within the base layer, and the base layer is in contact with at least a portion of the liquid permeable surface. . [0021] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises a filtering media within the vessel, being configured to filter out and retain a portion of a solid component of the septic effluent that passes over the filtering media. In an embodiment, the filtering media is at least partially held within a bag, mesh, sack or net. In an embodiment, the filtering media is elevated within the vessel so as to provide a gap between the filtering media and the vessel underside.

[0022] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises a first chamber, having the septic effluent inlet and containing filtering media to filter out and retain a portion of a solid component of the septic effluent that passes over the filtering media, while a liquid component of the septic effluent exits the first chamber, and a second chamber being in fluid communication with the first chamber and configured to enable the liquid component to enter the second chamber and to clarify, such that a further portion of the solid component of septic effluent is retained within the second chamber, wherein a clarified liquid component of the septic effluent exits the second chamber through the liquid-permeable surface. It is preferred that the filtering media includes bacteria (or other microorganisms), which is commonly known as a 'trickling filter' design.

[0023] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises an effluent dispersion tray arranged such that septic effluent that enters the vessel through the septic effluent inlet passes into the tray is substantially dispersed across the filtering media of the first chamber.

[0024] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises at least one wick arranged to, upon installation, provide fluid communication between a portion of the ground material within which the vessel is at least partially buried and at least one of a portion of the vessel, the base layer and the cavity.

[0025] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises at least one slot arranged to, upon installation, enable emission of at least a portion of septic effluent into a portion of the ground within which the vessel is at least partially buried.

[0026] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises a filtration means configured to inhibit a solid component of the septic effluent from being emitted through the at least one slot. In an embodiment, the filtration means is selected from one or more of a liquid-permeable membrane, a filtration mesh, a woven fabric, a non-woven fabric and a geotextile fabric.

[0027] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises a maintenance opening arranged to, following installation, provide access to one or more of a portion of the vessel and the base layer.

[0028] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises at least one aeration channel arranged to provide air to one or more of a portion of the vessel and a portion of the base layer, such that aerobic breakdown of an organic component of the septic effluent is induced, encouraged or otherwise supported. In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises a powered air source arranged to direct air into the at least one aeration channel.

[0029] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises at least one spray nozzle arranged to direct pressurised fluid onto a portion of the vessel.

[0030] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises at least one outer spray nozzle arranged to direct pressurised fluid onto a portion of an outer surface of the vessel.

[0031] In an embodiment, the vessel further comprises an insulating layer covering at least a portion of the vessel.

DEFINITIONS

[0032] Bio-mat: a natural biological network that is a greyish black/black jellylike bacterial growth comprising microorganisms and their by-products. It is often employed to filter pathogens and organic nutrients from wastewater.

[0033] Blackwater: Wastewater that is typically sourced from toilets and so potentially contains pathogens.

[0034] Greywater: All (typically domestic) wastewater from sources other than toilets. [0035] Septic Effluent: Refers to the waste emitted into a septic system, including greywater waste, blackwater waste and other sources of wastewater.

[0036] Septic Treatment System: Refers to the entire septic processing system, including at least one embodiment of the septic effluent treatment vessel of the present invention, any upstream processing units (such as holding tanks, chemical processing units, aerated systems or advanced aerated systems, filtration units and similar) and any downstream further processing units, as well as any other vessels or reactors connected in series or parallel that are for the purpose of holding, transporting or processing septic effluent.

DESCRI PTI ON OF Fl GURES

[0037] Embodiments of the present invention will now be described in relation to the figures, of which:

[0038] Figure 1 depicts a prior art septic tank;

[0039] Figure 2 depicts an embodiment of the vessel of the present invention, shown installed in the ground, with a cavity situated beneath the vessel;

[0040] Figure 3 depicts an embodiment of the vessel, shown installed above ground;

[0041] Figure 4 depicts a range of potential shapes and arrangements of the cavity;

[0042] Figure 5 depicts a further embodiment of the vessel of Figure 2 with various components for increasing uptake of water by the ground;

[0043] Figure 6 depicts an embodiment of the vessel of the present invention comprising a pair of internal chambers, and further including an effluent dispersion tray;

[0044] Figure 7 depicts an embodiment of the effluent dispersion tray shown in Figure 6;

[0045] Figure 8 depicts an embodiment of the vessel of Figure 6 with various components for increasing uptake of water by the ground; and

[0046] Figure 9 depicts an embodiment of the vessel of the present invention with nozzles.

DETAI LED DESCRI PTI ON OF EXEMPLARY EMBODI MENTS

[0047] In a first aspect, the present invention provides a septic effluent treatment vessel configured to receive and process septic effluent in preparation for discharge of at least a portion of the septic effluent into the environment without inducing contamination.

[0048] With reference to Figure 2, an embodiment of the present invention comprises a septic effluent treatment vessel 100 adapted to be at least partially buried in the ground 110. During installation, the vessel 100 is typically at least partially buried in ground 110 which comprises appropriate ground material, typically within a preformed hole having a base layer 112 and side walls 114. The hole may be deep enough for the vessel 100 to be completely buried in the ground 110, may be partially buried underground, or may be partially buried underground with an additional 'heap' layer 116 on top, as depicted by Figure 2. In many scenarios, the heap layer 116 is configured to eventually become integrated with the surrounding ground 110, generally through the spreading of ground cover. Therefore, unless otherwise specifically noted, the skilled person will appreciate that a reference to the ground 110 should also be regarded as a reference to the heap layer 116.

[0049] I n at least one embodiment, the base layer 112 comprises suitable base material. I n one embodiment, the base layer 112 may comprise ground material. In an alternative embodiment, the base layer 112 may comprise artificially- provided materials such as gravel or crushed stone, recycled building material such as concrete, crushed ceramics, crushed glass, crushed or chipped metal slag, or other waste materials that may be suitable for burial. [0050] In at least one embodiment, the side walls 114 comprise suitable wall material. In one embodiment, the side walls 114 may comprise backfilled ground material removed from the ground 110 or heap layer 116 during digging of an installation hole. In an alternate embodiment, the side walls 114 may be formed during burial through back-filling of the hole with a separate material. The side walls may therefore at least partially comprise artificially-provided materials such as gravel or crushed stone, recycled building material such as concrete, crushed ceramics, crushed glass, crushed or chipped metal slag, or other waste materials that may be suitable for burial.

[0051 ] Across at least some of the embodiments of the present invention, a key step in the installation process is that the vessel 100 is at least partially buried in appropriate ground material. However, the vessel 100 does not have to be buried underground or below ground level. As the skilled person will understand, it is of importance to at least one embodiment of the present invention that the ground material that is underneath, on top and totally surrounding the vessel 100 is appropriate and provides adequate drainage for any released liquid effluent. Suitable ground material is well known in the prior art and may include sand, loam, soils, and other ground materials with a high degree of liquid permeability. This is commonly referred to as a sand bed or sand mound in the industry.

[0052] Therefore, with reference to Figure 3, at least one embodiment of the vessel 100 of the present invention may be installed in an alternate means. There may be, for example, a situation wherein partial or complete burial of the vessel 100 in the ground 110 is impractical. This may be due to poor quality soil, a high proportion of rock within the ground, very high water tables, extensive underground wiring in the immediate area, or any number of reasons that the skilled person will appreciate will render burial of the vessel 100 in the ground 110 impractical, unsafe or otherwise improper. In such a scenario, the vessel 100 may be installed above ground 110 and may be enclosed within a complete heap layer 116. One possible embodiment of this is shown in Figure 3, with the vessel 100 enclosed within the heap layer 116, with a base layer 112 formed of a suitable material therein. The skilled person will understand that possible formation of a base layer 112 within the material of the heap layer 116 instead of the ground 110 during the installation process does not depart from the scope of the invention. In an alternate variation, the base layer 112 may be formed of or within the ground 110, with only the vessel 100 and side walls 114 above ground and within the heap layer 116.

[0053] Returning to at least the embodiment shown in Figure 2, the vessel 100 comprises a liquid permeable surface, which in this embodiment is an underside 120. In at least an embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 is configured such that a cavity 118 may be formed between a base layer 112 of a hole within which the vessel 100 is being buried and the liquid permeable surface or underside 120 of the vessel 100. In an embodiment of the present invention, at least a portion of the underside 120 of the vessel 100 is permeable to a liquid component of the septic effluent, such that the liquid component of the septic effluent may exit the vessel 100 through the liquid permeable surface or underside 120 and seep into the cavity 118. In an embodiment of the present invention, the liquid component may pool within the cavity 118 as an essentially-unhindered pool 122.

[0054] In an embodiment, during installation the base layer 112 may be configured to act as an infiltrative surface such that the clarified liquid component may settle across the base layer 112 and, over time, seep through. In an embodiment wherein the base layer 112 is configured to act as an infiltrative surface, the base layer 112 may provide a region wherein a septic bio-mat may form. The septic bio-mat, being spread across the entire base layer 112 of the hole, acts as a further filtration system. Present bacteria may process the liquid and remove a portion of organic and nutrient components that are either suspended or dissolved into the clarified liquid. In the process, a bio-mat may form interspersed through the whole base layer 112.

[0055] A bio-mat may act as an integral part in a septic effluent treatment system, as there is no easy, inexpensive way to remove dissolved material from within the liquid component of effluent. This dissolved material may represent a contamination risk to groundwater, or may comprise pathogens or alternatively dissolved nutrients that may encourage algal bloom, bacteria growth and similar. Without limiting the scope of the invention, it is theorised that by spreading the base layer 112 out over a wider area, the bio-mat may spread out as well. This may allow for the base layer 112 and surrounding ground 110 to take up, retain and transport away a greater capacity of liquid from the septic effluent within the cavity 118. This may also allow for the processing of a greater volume of liquid per unit time, due to increased surface area of the widespread bio-mat.

[0056] As the skilled person is aware, bio-mat thickness is connected to the ability of the septic system to process septic effluent. A bio-mat must reach a certain thickness in order to be able to process a particular volume of septic effluent. However, as a bio-mat develops and thickens beyond a critical point, it becomes more water-impermeable, due to comprising largely of slimes and microbial deposits. This may reduce or even inhibit the ability for liquids to be transported away from the prior art septic treatment vessel, increasing hydraulic load on the system and potentially causing the septic effluent to 'back up' the effluent inlet and travel upstream through the septic system within which the vessel is installed. There are a range of factors that affect this, such as the natural hydraulic load present within the soil (i.e. how much water is present within the ground), the height of the local water table, the climate and other environmental factors.

[0057] With further reference to Figure 2, the provision of a cavity 118 provides an increased surface area of infiltrative surface wherein the liquid component of the septic effluent may be absorbed. By spreading the influx of nutrients over a wide area through the cavity 118, the resulting bio-mat is spread out, thereby preventing, inhibiting or at least ameliorating the ability for the bio-mat to build up in one concentrated area. Through spreading out the bio-mat, its ability to build up in one point and thereby reduce the permeability of that portion of soil to water is at least limited, and a liquid component of the septic effluent may be properly absorbed by the soil.

[0058] In a further embodiment, the cavity 118 may provide a means for aerobic organisms to encounter and consume a portion of the nutrients and/or organic matter within the septic effluent. As aerobic organisms may only operate within soil that is oxygenated, the provision of cavities and other increased drainage may improve oxygenation of the soil and thus allow infiltration by aerobic organisms. These organisms may also consume a portion of the forming bio-mat, thereby further reducing the concentration of bio-mat within the soil. This may therefore assist in maintaining the balance of bio-mat within the soil at an acceptable level, wherein the water permeability of the ground 110 is not sufficiently reduced to cause septic overflow or backflow or one or more of the other problems faced by prior art septic systems.

[0059] With reference to Figures 4A-4C, in an alternate embodiment, a cavity 118 may be at least partially formed within base layer 112. In such an embodiment, base layer 112 may be in contact with at least a portion of a liquid permeable surface or underside 120 of the vessel 100, with the cavity 118 formed either wholly or partially within the base layer 112. Figures 4A-4C depict some potential embodiments of a cavity formed within the base layer 112, wherein at least a portion of the base layer 112 is also in contact with the liquid permeable surface or underside 120. As depicted in Figure 4A, in at least one embodiment the cavity 118 may be fully enclosed within the base layer 112. In a further embodiment (not shown), at least a portion of the cavity 119 may extend beyond an outer perimeter of the vessel 100. In a further embodiment (not shown), the cavity 119 may extend beyond the base layer 112 and into surrounding ground material 110. In each case, it is envisaged that the implementation of cavity 118 may serve to increase the surface area of the infiltrative surface (base layer 112), thereby increasing the area over which the formed bio-mat may develop, thereby reducing the ability for the bio-mat to build up in one location and limit the water permeability of the ground material 110.

[0060] In some situations, the provision of dissolved organic material or nutrients may result in a bio-mat that grows at a very high rate. In other situations, the existing ground material may have a naturally lowered water permeability. In a further alternate situation, the natural oxygenation of the soil may be too low to encourage a sufficient amount of aerobic organisms for control of bio-mat spread. There may be additional situations wherein bio-mat growth otherwise needs additional control.

[0061] In order to provide a further means of control, and with further reference to Figure 2, in a further embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may further comprise at least one aeration channel 124 that enables oxygenated air to be provided into the cavity 118 between the liquid permeable surface 120 and base layer 112. Without wishing to be limited by theory, it is understood that traditional septic treatment systems rely on bio-mat production through anaerobic processes. This is because the bio-mat is gelatinous and slimy, and, as it thickens, it naturally prevents the ground matter within the bio-mat from receiving oxygen. Therefore, any aerobic bacteria present within the bio-mat of a traditional septic system will rapidly become choked out and suffocated. It is envisaged however that the provision of oxygenated air into the cavity 118 of at least one embodiment of the present invention may encourage aerobic breakdown processes to occur in addition to the already-present anaerobic processes. These aerobic processes may be largely confined to the upper regions of the base layer 112 since oxygen may not necessarily be able to penetrate fully into a well-developed and thick bio-mat. It is further envisaged that such a system may additionally encourage underground-dwelling life such as parasites, earthworms and similar to enter the cavity 118 or base layer 112 and consume a portion of the interspersed bio-mat, thereby controlling its rate of growth. Therefore, a further embodiment of the present invention may be able to control, inhibit or at least ameliorate the ability of a bio-mat to grow beyond a critical thickness and/or density and reduce the water permeability of the surrounding base layer 112 and ground 110.

[0062] In an embodiment, the aeration channel 124 may instead provide air to the vessel 100. This may promote aerobic breakdown processes within the vessel 100, or may promote the dissolution of oxygen into the septic effluent prior to it passing into the cavity 118. The inclusion of air within the vessel 100 can assist with odour control within the system. In at least this embodiment, provision of dissolved oxygen may enable aerobic breakdown processes to be used to control, inhibit or at least ameliorate the ability of a bio-mat to grow beyond a critical thickness and/or density and reduce the water permeability of the surrounding base layer 112 and ground 110. In a further embodiment of the invention, the aeration channel 124 may provide air to both the vessel 100 and to the cavity 118.

[0063] In an embodiment of the present invention, air or oxygen may be actively directed into the aeration channel 124 from an external source. This source may be an aerator, a blower, a fan, or a pump configured to provide air into the aeration channel 124 of an installed vessel 100. The pump may run on mains power or it may be powered by renewable energy sources such as solar or wind, and may be coupled to a battery system.

[0064] In an embodiment of the present invention there can be a solar panel or panels located on the lid or adjacent to the unit connected to heating elements located in the soil on top of the lid to warm the soil to aid evaporation especially in the colder months. The elements can also be under the lid to warm the air over the tray to aid evaporation of liquids released to the soil above the lid.

[0065] In an embodiment of the present invention, the vessel has lifting points or lugs to enable the plant to be lifted and lowered into a trench by means of machinery including a digger or small excavator. The lifting points are preferably at the top corners of the container for a backhoe to lift, carry, and drop the plant into a trench or bed on site. Lifting handles can also be moulded into the unit for manhandling the unit into the trench or bed. The lifting points, lugs and handles facilitate removal of the plant for resale if mainline sewerage is made available or a client does not pay premiums if on a rental scheme.

[0066] In an embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may receive septic effluent for processing through a septic effluent inlet 126. In one embodiment of the present invention, the septic effluent entering through the inlet 126 may substantially comprise liquid effluent with suspended fine solids and dissolved material. In such an embodiment, in a step known as 'primary treatment', larger solids may be filtered out by a separate process upstream from the vessel 100. In at least this embodiment, the vessel 100 may comprise a clarifier, wherein liquid effluent is held within the vessel 100 and allowed to sit, such that at least a portion of the suspended solids may drop out of suspension over time and settle to the container base. The solids may be entrained within the vessel 100. In a further embodiment, a portion of the underside 120 of the vessel 100 may be permeable to liquids.

[0067] The clarifier preferably has a floor sloping to a sump which has a flat bottomed section for a pump. The clarifier may have a deeper rectangular area on the inlet side for other locations of the pump unit. Another embodiment can include a sump as part of the clarifier which is shaped or configured to receive settled sludge before and after a wash-down prior to its eventual pump-out and disposal. The sump can be extended down to ground or below ground level to provide weight, support and stability to the unit. The sump can house a pump to recirculate settled sludge and liquid to different parts of the plant as well as assist in the disposal of sludge and liquids during maintenance.

[0068] There is preferably a 50 or 100 mm suction pipe with a cam lock fitting for the suction of sludge from the clarifier compartment. The suction pipe can also be located outside of the container with a connection to the clarifier chamber for the suction of any settled sludge. The location of the suction pipe will be dependent on where a desired collection point is positioned in the container. There is also a 50 or 100 mm pipe with or without a cam lock fitting extending below the underside of and, accessible externally or internally of the plant; the pipe for introducing oxygen to the floor of the trench or bed, for checking the liquid or sludge depth at floor level, and for pumping out excess sludge or liquid as required.

[0069] With reference to Figure 2, the vessel 100 may comprise a conical, round or otherwise sloped liquid permeable surface 120, such that solids leaving suspension may naturally settle in the lowermost region of the vessel 100. In a further embodiment, the portion of the vessel underside 120 that is permeable to liquids may be located on an elevated region of the underside 120. In an embodiment, the vessel 100 may be able to be opened to enable entrained or deposited solids to be extracted. This may be through a maintenance opening 128, or through an alternative opening purpose-installed for removal of captured solid matter.

[0070] In a further embodiment the vessel 100 may contain a filtering media 140. In at least this embodiment, the septic effluent may comprise both a solid component and a liquid component. The septic effluent may be distributed across and through filtering media 140. As septic effluent traverses through the filtering media 140, a portion of the solid component of the septic effluent is removed and becomes entrained by the filtering media 140, while the liquid component exits the vessel 100. [0071] In some embodiments of the present invention, the filtering media 140 may include one or more of shells (such as nut shells), packing foam, polystyrene foam, or other porous media. It may further include suitably porous material such as crushed limestone, porous plastics, or any form of packing material suitable for use in a septic system. For example, packing material comprising ceramics may be of particular value due to being highly inert. The primary requirement is that the filtering media 140 is of appropriate size, shape and composition to enable the entrainment and retention of large solid particulate while allowing the liquid component of the septic effluent to filter through, preferably without degrading into a potential groundwater contaminant. Further, it is preferred that the filtering media includes bacteria (or other microorganisms), which is commonly known as a 'trickling filter' design.

[0072] Although Figure 2 depicts the filtering media 140 as comprising a substantial portion of the vessel 100, this should be understood as being for illustrative purposes only. The amount of filtering media within a vessel 100 is dependent upon a range of factors and may be adjusted to meet the needs of a particular vessel upon installation. In a further embodiment, the filtering media 140 may be encased within a bag, mesh, cloth or net in order to confine the filtering media 140. In a further embodiment, the filtering media 140 encased within a bag, mesh, cloth or net may be elevated such that there is a space or gap between a lower portion of the filtering media 140 and the vessel underside 120. This may enable for a liquid component of the septic effluent to settle upon the liquid permeable surface, being in this case, the vessel underside 120, and may aid in allowing any fine solids within the liquid component to further settle out of suspension.

[0073] In a further embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may be further configured to provide for the breakdown of organic material within the entrained solid or semi-solid component. This may be through the provision of biologically-active microorganisms interspersed throughout the filtering media 140. Alternatively, there may be a catalyst, an enzyme, a nitrogen inhibitor or any other compound, substance of agent that assists in the breakdown of organic material. [0074] Without limiting the scope of the invention, it is theorised that an end- product of the breakdown of organic material will be a gelatinous biological material that will form as a film layer upon a surface of the filtering media 140. As this film layer builds, it is theorised that it will slowly slough through the filtering media 140 and eventually become entrained within the vessel. It is further envisaged that this may allow for entrained solids to be slowly broken down over time and filter through the vessel.

[0075] In an embodiment, a maintenance opening 128 may provide access to the cavity 118 situated beneath the the vessel 100, thereby enabling maintenance, cleaning, removal or otherwise treatment of the bio-mat within the base layer 112. Alternatively, access to the cavity 118 may be through a separate bio-mat maintenance opening (not shown). In one embodiment, the vessel 100 may comprise multiple maintenance openings 128, each of which provide access to a portion of the vessel 100 and/or the cavity 118.

[0076] Either means of providing access to the cavity 118 may assist in controlling the rate of growth and thickening of the bio-mat by allowing for a portion of the bio-mat to be removed. This control process may be supplementary to control through the encouragement of aerobic breakdown processes and underground-dwelling organisms achieved through the introduction of oxygen through the aeration channel 124. In an alternative embodiment, the periodic removal of bio-mat may be the primary means of controlling the bio-mat thickness. In a further alternative embodiment, periodic removal of bio-mat may be the only means of controlling bio-mat thickness other than traditional control processes.

[0077] Without limiting the scope of the invention through theory, it is envisaged that providing ease of maintenance access to various portions of the vessel 100 may enable the lifespan of the invention to be improved, in that at least some of the causes of failure in prior art septic treatment systems may be avoided. For example, it is known that a common cause of failure for prior art septic treatment systems is overproduction of bio-mat, which leads to decreased ground permeability and thus decreased absorption of septic effluent liquid. It is also known that solids that are not easily biodegradable may pass through the septic treatment system from time to time, and a portion may not be caught or removed by any upstream filtration processes. As these collect in a prior art septic system, their bulk forms an essentially-inert blockage within the prior art septic treatment system that can reduce the prior art system's processing capacity. Each of these may be alleviated through provision of maintenance access via at least one maintenance opening 128, in addition to the previously-discussed advantages.

[0078] With reference to Figure 5, in an embodiment of the present invention, the septic effluent treatment vessel 100 may comprise at least one wick 130 providing a fluid connection between one or more of the vessel 100 and the cavity 118 with one or more of the surrounding ground 110 or heap layer 116 (if present). Figure 5 depicts various embodiments of wicks 130, and the skilled person will understand that there may be further variations not explicitly depicted that are within the scope of the invention. The wick 130 may act to transport fluids from a region of high fluid saturation to a region of low fluid saturation through capillary action.

[0079] In one embodiment, the wick 130 may provide a fluid connection between the vessel 100 and either the surrounding ground 110 or, if present, a heap layer 116. In an alternative embodiment, the wick 130 may provide a fluid connection between one or more of a first chamber 138 and second chamber 142 with the surrounding ground material 110 or heap layer 116 (if present). In an alternative embodiment, the wick 130 may provide a fluid connection between the cavity 118 and the surrounding ground material 110 or heap layer 116 (if present). The skilled person will understand that the above embodiments are not mutually exclusive, in that the wick 130 may provide a fluid connection between the cavity 118, the vessel 100 and the ground material 110 and/or heap layer 116, without departing from the scope or object of the invention.

[0080] Without limiting the scope or object of the invention, it is theorised that the wick 130 may act to draw out a portion of the liquid component of septic effluent from within the vessel 100 or cavity 118 and deposit it within the ground material 110 or heap layer 116. In so doing, an embodiment of the present invention that utilises at least one wick 130 may promote evapotranspiration of water from within the septic effluent. Removal of a portion of water from within the septic effluent and depositing it into the soil may enable plants to draw upon and process the water, leading to transpirative emission of water, as well as to enable evaporation of water from within the soil, into the atmosphere.

[0081] With further reference to Figure 5, in an embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may comprise one or more slots 132 arranged to enable the emission of septic effluent from within the vessel 100 into the surrounding ground 110. In an embodiment, the emission of septic effluent into the surrounding ground 110 may enhance, improve or otherwise increase the rate of water leaving the septic system through the promotion of evapotranspiration of water. Removal of a portion of water from within the septic effluent and depositing it into the soil may enable plants to draw upon and process the water, leading to transpirative emission of water, as well as to enable evaporation of water from within the soil, into the atmosphere. In a further embodiment, the vessel may comprise one or more slots 132 and one or more wicks 130 for further promotion of evapotranspiration of water from the septic effluent within the septic system.

[0082] In an embodiment, the emission of septic effluent through the one or more slots 132 may enable, encourage or otherwise contribute to the development of bio-mat in a region within the ground 110 surrounding the slot 132. The bio- mat may act in a manner similar to that described previously regarding an embodiment of the invention wherein bio-mat is interspersed throughout a portion of the base layer 112.

[0083] Without limiting the scope of the invention, it is theorised that the incorporation of at least one wick 130 or at least one slot 132 into an embodiment of the vessel 100 of the present invention may assist in the processing of septic effluent through the removal of excess water therefrom. It is beneficial to the downstream biological processes to remove excess wastewater from the septic effluent, thereby concentrating the contaminants. Removal of excess water may also assist by reducing the hydraulic load upon the surrounding ground 110. The portion of the water extracted from the liquid component of septic effluent that is emitted into the upper layers of ground material 110 or heap layer 116 from the wick 130 or the slot 132 may stay within the ground for a shorter period of time than water passing into the ground 110 through base layer 112. This is theorised as being due to the emitted water being closer to the ground surface and thus being easier to be taken up by plants or to evaporate. As a result, there may be a lowered volume of wastewater for the base layer 112 to process and disperse into the surrounding ground 110, and a resulting lowered impact on any surrounding groundwater sources that may otherwise be contaminated.

[0084] In a further embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may further comprise a filtration means 134 arranged to inhibit or ameliorate the ability of solids to be emitted through the slot 132 into surrounding ground 110. In some embodiments, the filtration means 134 may comprise a fabric or mesh layer arranged to cover the at least one slot 132. The filtration means 134 may be a layer covering a substantial portion of the vessel 100, or may only cover the slot 132 (as depicted in Figure 5), without departing from the scope of the invention. In a further embodiment, the filtration means 134 may also prevent the ingress of ground material through the slot 132 into the vessel 100.

[0085] In an embodiment, a further filtration means 136 may be arranged to assist in the prevention of solids being transported through the liquidpermeable surface 120. In a further embodiment, the further filtration means 136 may be an extension of the filtration means 134 covering the slots 132.

[0086] In an embodiment of the invention, each of the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a fabric. The fabric may be woven. The fabric may be non-woven. The fabric may be knitted. In a further embodiment, the fabric of the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a geotextile fabric selected to inhibit or at least ameliorate solids from passing out of the slot 132 and/ or through the liquid permeable surface 120. In an alternate embodiment, the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a membrane that is liquid-permeable but inhibits the movement of solids. In an alternate embodiment, the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a filtration mesh.

[0087] Referring now to Figure 6, there is shown an embodiment of the septic effluent treatment vessel 100 comprising at least two chambers. It will be understood by the skilled person that the vessel 100 is otherwise configured in a substantially similar manner to the previously-discussed embodiment of the vessel 100, such that a cavity 118 is formed between the liquid permeable surface 120 and base layer 112. In further embodiments, a bio-mat may form interspersed within the base layer 112, again in a substantially similar manner. The skilled person will understand that the vessel 100 of at least the present embodiment may be installed either at least partially buried in the ground 110 as shown in Figure 2, or may be installed above-ground in a manner similar to that depicted in Figure 3.

[0088] The first chamber 138 contains a filtering media 140, and receives septic effluent through a septic effluent inlet 126. In at least this embodiment, the septic effluent may comprise both a solid component and a liquid component. The septic effluent distributes across and through filtering media 140. As septic effluent traverses through the filtering media 140, a portion of the solid component of the septic effluent is removed and becomes entrained by the filtering media 140, while the liquid component exits the first chamber 138.

[0089] In some embodiments of the present invention, the filtering media 140 may include one or more of shells (such as nut shells), packing foam, polystyrene foam, or other porous media. It may further include suitably porous material such as crushed limestone, porous plastics, or any form of packing material suitable for use in a septic system. For example, packing material comprising ceramics may be of particular value due to being highly inert. The primary requirement is that the packed filtering media is of appropriate size, shape and composition to enable the entrainment and retention of large solid particulate while allowing the liquid component of the septic effluent to filter through, preferably without degrading into a potential groundwater contaminant.

[0090] In a further embodiment of the present invention, the first chamber 138 may be further configured to provide for the breakdown of organic material within the entrained solid or semi-solid component. This may be through the provision of biologically-active microorganisms interspersed throughout the filtering media 140. Alternatively, there may be a catalyst, an enzyme, a nitrogen inhibitor or any other compound, substance of agent that assists in the breakdown of organic material.

[0091] Without limiting the scope of the invention, it is theorised that an end- product of the breakdown of organic material will be a gelatinous biological material that will form as a film layer upon a surface of the filtering media 140. As this film layer builds, it is theorised that it will slowly slough through the filtering media 140 and eventually exit the first chamber 138. It is further envisaged that this may allow for entrained solids to be slowly broken down over time and filter through the vessel.

[0092] It is understood that while a substantial majority of solids may be removed from the septic effluent flow in the first chamber 138, it is likely that fine particulate solids may not be entrained within the filtering media 140. Therefore, in an embodiment of the present invention, the septic effluent treatment vessel 100 further comprises a second chamber 142 in fluid communication with the first chamber 138, the second chamber 142 being configured to act as a clarifier. It is preferred that there is a means 144 of preventing solids from exiting the first chamber 138 into the second chamber 142. With reference to Figure 6, solid retention means 144 are shown as a mesh, although the skilled person will appreciate that there are other means of accomplishing this. In an embodiment, the solid retention means may be configured to prevent the passage of solids with a diameter greater than about 1 cm from passing into the second chamber 142. In a further embodiment, the solid retention means may be configured to prevent the passage of solids with a diameter greater than about 0.5 cm.

[0093] In an embodiment, the second chamber 142 enables a further portion of the solid component of the septic effluent to settle out of dispersion and become entrained within the second chamber 142, thereby producing a clarified liquid component of the septic effluent. In a further embodiment wherein the first chamber 138 is configured to provide breakdown of organic material, the formed film layer that sloughs off of the filtering media 140 and exits the first chamber 138 may also be captured and entrained within the second chamber 142. Following this, a liquid component of the septic effluent may exit the second chamber 142 through the liquid permeable surface 120 having at least a portion of which is liquid-permeable. In a further embodiment, a bio-mat may be encouraged to form within the base layer 112, with similar advantages as previously discussed in relation to at least one embodiment of vessel 100.

[0094] With reference to Figures 6 & 8, in an embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may further comprise a dispersion means arranged to more evenly disperse septic effluent received through the effluent inlet 126. The dispersion means may comprise a dispersion tray 146 arranged to receive septic effluent from the effluent inlet 126. Referring now to Figure 7, there is shown one possible embodiment of a dispersion tray 146. In at least one embodiment, the septic effluent enters the dispersion tray 146 and disperses outwardly therefrom through one or more tray openings 148. Septic effluent may enter the dispersion tray through any suitable opening, such as an inlet port on the side or through an open top. In an embodiment wherein septic effluent enters the dispersion tray 146 through an open top, the dispersion tray 146 may comprise splash guards 146a, 146b, 146c, 146d to prevent or ameliorate septic effluent splashing over into the first chamber 138, below, in large quantities.

[0095] Without limiting the scope of the invention, it is theorised that dispersion of septic effluent through one or more openings 148 may act to distribute potential hydraulic load across an increased portion of the vessel 100. This may assist in equal distribution of solids and liquids across a greater area, thereby preventing, inhibiting or at least ameliorating the concentration of effluent in one region of the vessel 100. In one embodiment, the dispersion tray 146 may be used in conjunction with a first chamber 138 and be arranged such that septic effluent is dispersed across a substantial portion of the filtering media 140. This may act to improve the filtration of solids by the filtering media 140 by dispersion of hydraulic load over a greater proportion thereof. The dispersion tray 146 may assist in preventing premature or excessive removal of any film layer that has formed on a surface of the filtering media 140 by dispersing hydraulic load as opposed to the substantial majority of incoming septic effluent entering the vessel 100 through the effluent inlet 126 impacting upon one region of filtering media 140.

[0096] In some embodiments, the dispersion tray 146 may be configured in order to capture and retain large solids such as cleaning wipes or other sanitary products that may inadvertently enter the septic treatment system and not be suitably intercepted prior to the septic effluent entering the vessel 100. In an embodiment, a maintenance opening 128 may enable access to the dispersion tray 146, and may enable cleaning, maintenance or drainage thereof. This may also assist in the removal of large solids that become captured or entrained within the dispersion tray 146. The dispersion tray 146 may further include oil absorbing material, which can assist to absorb excess oils and greases.

[0097] In an embodiment of the present invention, a maintenance opening 128 may provide access to one or more of the first and second chambers 138, 142. The maintenance opening may enable cleaning, maintenance or drainage of one or more of the first and second chambers 138, 142. In an embodiment of the present invention, a maintenance opening 128 may provide access to the cavity 118. This may enable cleaning, maintenance or drainage thereof. A maintenance opening 128 may provide access to one or more of the first and second chambers 138, 142, the dispersion tray 146 and the cavity 118. Alternatively, the vessel 100 may comprise a plurality of maintenance openings 128, each providing access to a portion of the vessel and/or the cavity. It is envisaged that the maintenance opening 128 will provide similar advantages to those previously discussed in relation to previous embodiments of the vessel 100 comprising at least one maintenance opening 128.

[0098] In an embodiment of the present invention wherein a maintenance opening 128 provides access to the first chamber 138, there may be a further advantage in that the filtering media 140 may be cleaned, replaced, rejuvenated or otherwise maintained through access provided said maintenance opening. This may enable for projected life of filtering media 140 to be extended, or for filtering media 140 to be replaced once end-of-life is reached. In a further embodiment wherein the filtering media comprises means to encourage the breakdown of organic materials, such as biologically-active microorganisms being interspersed throughout the filtering media 140, the maintenance opening 128 may enable for said means to be controlled, replaced, rejuvenated or otherwise maintained.

[0099] With reference to Figure 8, in an embodiment of the present invention, an aeration channel 124 may enable the provision of air into one or more of the first and second chambers. In a further embodiment, the aeration channel 124 may be in addition to a separate aeration channel 124 providing air into the cavity 118. In an embodiment, the cavity 118 and one or more of the first and second chambers 138, 142 may be provided air by the same aeration channel 124. In a further alternative embodiment, there may be no air provided to the cavity 118, such that all air is provided by the aeration channel 124 into one or more of the first and second chambers 138, 142.

[0100] In an embodiment of the present invention, the septic effluent treatment vessel 100 may comprise at least one wick 130 providing a fluid connection between one or more of the first chamber 138, the second chamber 142, the dispersion tray 146 and the cavity 118with oneor moreof thesurrounding ground 110 or heap layer 116 (if present). Figure 8 depicts various embodiments of wicks 130, and the skilled person will understand that there may be further variations not explicitly depicted that are within the scope of the invention. The wick 130 may act to transport fluids from a region of high fluid saturation to a region of low fluid saturation through capillary action, it is further considered that the wicks 130 of at least the present embodiment will provide similar benefits as those provided by wicks 130 in previously-discussed embodiments of the invention.

[0101 ] In an embodiment of the present invention, the septic effluent treatment vessel 100 may comprise one or more slots 132 arranged to enable the emission of septic effluent from within one or more of the first chamber 138 and the second chamber 142 into the surrounding ground 110. In a further embodiment, the vessel may comprise one or more slots 132 and one or more wicks 130 for further promotion of evapotranspiration of water from the septic effluent within the septic system. It is considered that incorporation of at least one slot 132 into the vessel 100 comprising a first chamber 138 and second chamber 142 may provide similar advantages to at least the present embodiment of the invention as those discussed in relation to previous embodiments of the septic effluent treatment vessel 100 comprising at least one slot 132.

[0102] In a further embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may further comprise a filtration means 134 arranged to inhibit or ameliorate the ability of solids to be emitted through the slot 132 into surrounding ground 110. In some embodiments, the filtration means 134 may comprise a fabric or mesh layer arranged to cover the at least one slot 132. The filtration means 134 may be a layer covering a substantial portion of the vessel 100, or may only cover the slot 132 (as depicted in Figure 5), without departing from the scope of the invention. In a further embodiment, the filtration means 134 may also prevent the ingress of ground material through the slot 132 into the vessel 100.

[0103] In an embodiment, a further filtration means 136 may be arranged to assist in the prevention of solids being transported through the liquid permeable surface 120. In a further embodiment, the further filtration means 136 may instead be an extension of the filtration means 134 covering the slots 132.

[0104] In an embodiment of the invention, each of the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a fabric. The fabric may be woven. The fabric may be non-woven. The fabric may be knitted. In a further embodiment, the fabric of the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a geotextile fabric selected to inhibit or at least ameliorate solids from passing out of the slot 132 and/ or through the liquid permeable surface 120. In an alternate embodiment, the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a membrane that is liquid-permeable but inhibits the movement of solids. In an alternate embodiment, the filtration means 134 and/or further filtration means 136 may comprise a filtration mesh.

[0105] Figure 9 depicts a simplified vessel 100, wherein one or more features previously described have been removed to improve clarity. With Reference to Figure 9, in an embodiment of the present invention the vessel 100 may comprise at least one spray nozzle 150. The spray nozzle 150 may be arranged to spray pressurised fluid onto an internal component or surface of the vessel 100. In a further embodiment (not shown) wherein the vessel 100 comprises a first chamber 138 and a second chamber 142, the vessel may comprise at least one spray nozzle 150 in the first chamber 138 and at least one spray nozzle 150 in the second chamber. In an embodiment, the vessel 100 may comprise one or more outer spray nozzles 152 arranged on an outer surface of the vessel 100. In Figure 9 these outer spray nozzles 152 are depicted as being on an outer surface of the vessel underside 120, but the skilled person will understand that the outer spray nozzles 152 may be located on any appropriate outer position of the vessel 100. In a further embodiment wherein the vessel 100 comprises at least one slot 132, the spray nozzle 150 or outer spray nozzle 152 may be arranged to spray a pressurised fluid onto and/or around the slot 132. In a further embodiment wherein the vessel 100 comprises at least one wick 130, the spray nozzle 150 or outer spray nozzle 152 may be arranged to spray a pressurised fluid onto and/or around the wick 130. In a further embodiment wherein the vessel 100 comprises at least one aeration channel 124, the spray nozzle 150 or outer spray nozzle 152 may be arranged to spray a pressurised fluid onto and/or around the aeration channel 124.

[0106] Without wishing to be limited by theory, it is envisaged that the vessel 100 including at least one spray nozzle 150 or outer spray nozzle 152 may assist in cleaning dried septic effluent from one or more surfaces of the vessel 100. In some embodiments, the efficiency of the vessel 100 is linked to the ability for a liquid component of septic effluent to flow between various regions within the system, such as (in some embodiments) between chambers, or into the cavity 118, and ultimately into the ground 110 or heap layer 116. It is therefore of benefit to ameliorate aspects of the system that may decrease the ability for liquid to flow. In certain environments wherein the present invention may be employed, excess heat or decreased water in the air may result in increased rates of evaporation. This may result in at least a portion of the routes that the septic effluent liquid component may travel through to become blocked due to deposition of solid material following evaporation. In other environments, septic effluent may dry within a portion of the vessel, and so impede liquid flow in that manner. In alternative cases, unintended solid matter may form a blockage. For example, sanitary items may become lodged within a slot or block an access port into an aeration channel. The skilled person will understand that there are many possible cases wherein the amount of water provided may drop below the level necessary to maintain healthy and efficient function of a septic treatment system. It is envisaged that in at least one embodiment, provision of a spray nozzle 150 or outer spray nozzle 152 may assist in alleviating the effects of decreased water provision. For example, dried solid matter may be washed away, dislodged, dissolved or become suspended in flowing liquids. Unintended solid matter may be dislodged. [0107] Alternatively, in a scenario wherein water has become sparse throughout the system due to evaporation, lack of use, improper care or any other reason, provision of a spray nozzle 150 or outer spray nozzle 152 may allow for rejuvenation of the system comprising the vessel 100. For example, bulk solid matter may coagulate and dry within the vessel 100. Pressurised fluid provided through a spray nozzle 150 may eventually dissolve and/or re-suspend the solid matter, allowing for reactivation of processes previously discussed. As a further non-limiting example, a bio-mat may become dried out for similar reasons (lack of use, hot weather and so on) and an outer spray nozzle 152 may provide moisture necessary to rejuvenate, replenish or reactivate the bio-mat.

[0108] In one embodiment of the present invention, the vessel 100 may be further configured for installation in a range of environments. By way of non- limiting example, the vessel 100 may be encased in at least one layer of insulating material that may be configured to assist in maintaining internal temperature of the vessel in colder environments.

[0109] It is preferred that multiple septic effluent treatment vessels of the present invention can be utilised in a series or parallel configuration to augment or increase total treatment and processing capability on a scalable level. Where multiple plants are required, depending on the size of the operation, to alternate flow to chosen extensions and to allow for rest periods, one or more sequencing valves or sluice gates can be installed with the pipework connecting each plant.

[0110] While the present invention has been described above with particular reference to treatment of septic waste, in another embodiment of the invention, the treatment vessel can be utilised in a rainwater treatment, storage and/or disposal. Rainwater commonly becomes fouled with debris, animal droppings (particularly bird effluent), bacteria, viruses and other biological material. The treatment vessel of the present invention can be used to treat and clean rainwater in a very similar way to the treatment of the septic effluent that has been described in detail above. Accordingly, the use of the treatment vessel with rainwater falls wholly within the scope of the present invention.

[0111] While the invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments above, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that it is not limited to those embodiments, but may be embodied in many other forms, variations and modifications other than those specifically described. The invention includes all such variation and modifications. The invention also includes all of the steps, features, components and/or devices referred to or indicated in the specification, individually or collectively and any and all combinations or any two or more of the steps or features.

[0112] In this specification, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the word "comprising" is not intended to have the exclusive meaning of the word such as "consisting only of", but rather has the non-exclusive meaning, in the sense of "including at least". The same applies, with corresponding grammatical changes, to other forms of the word such as "comprise", etc.

[0113] Other definitions for selected terms used herein may be found within the detailed description of the invention and apply throughout. Unless otherwise defined, all other scientific and technical terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention belongs.

[0114] Any promises made in the present document should be understood to relate to some embodiments of the invention, and are not intended to be promises made about the invention in all embodiments. Where there are promises that are deemed to apply to all embodiments of the invention, the applicant/patentee reserves the right to later delete them from the description and they do not rely on these promises for the acceptance or subsequent grant of a patent in any country.