Scienco/FAST has developed MarineFAST® to help Chief Engineers and vessel operators manage/treat wastewater produced by their passenger ships

With decades of real-world operating history of more than 60,000 installations in over 70 countries, BioMicrobics, Scienco/FAST, and SeptiTech provides “Integrated Water Treatment Solutions” through a worldwide distributor network.  Demonstrating a commitment to society,  the company has revolutionized the water treatment industry with its alternatives to conventional methods of sewage treatment to deploy sustainable solutions that exceed performance, public health standards, water quality requirements, and safety standards for treatment of water, wastewater, stormwater, greywater, and marine sewage.  BioMicrobics has been recognized as a leader in exporting our decentralized equipment with a 2012 Presidential (USA) “E” Award and 2016 Presidential (USA) “E Star” Award for Excellence in Exporting. 

Focusing on the capacity flows for crew and passengers (whether from 1 to 2000+) for domestic or commercial (high) strength of wastewater being produced on the vessel and how it will be stored and transferred prior to, and after, treatment, the Ship operators must ensure that their passenger vessels do not discharge untreated, diluted and chemically contaminated wastewater into the sea or other waterways to comply with permitted effluent standards.


Scienco®, in the 1940s, first started as the Scientific Tablet Co. division for G.S. Suppiger Company. In the late 1940s, the Scienco® brand expanded to tablet depositing machines and salt handling products that quickly became the standard for the food industry. See an early 1947 Product Catalog!


Smith & Loveless Inc. was founded as a sales engineering firm representing several manufacturers in the water and wastewater treatment industry. For Smith & Loveless, sales increased rapidly in the 1950s throughout the United States and into Canada.


Morton Salt Company purchased the salt-handling division of G.S. Suppiger Company and formed Scienco® Systems. During this period, new innovations, such as the FloCRON®, Brinemakers (now known as SciBRINE®), Sodium Hypochlorite Generators (now known as SciCHLOR™), and Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems were developed to accommodate an increase in water treatment systems.


The prototype marine FAST® sewage treatment system was installed aboard the towboat M/V Missouri while the vessel was underway.  It was an immediate success.


After years of successful operation aboard three towboats, FAST® unit sales and production began.  Even though there were no Federal rules, towboats operating on the Great Rivers had to meet regulations of the individual States. 


The US Coast Guard issued sewage treatment regulations 33 CFR Part 159.  Official testing was done aboard the towboat M/V United States while underway, the FAST® unit passed all tests and FAST obtained USCG certification.
Needing a more robust alternative to physical chemical/dilution systems for small cruise ships, excursion vessels and ferries, many operators use a certified Type II Marine Sanitation Device (MSD), which removes 95% of the contaminants from ships’ greywater and blackwater. The biological, fully-processed, flow-through device provides more than adequate sewage treatment and opportunities for water reuse. Scienco/FAST has developed and enhanced the MarineFAST® MSDs for decades to help operators manage their total wastewater produced by their vessels’ facilities and onboard systems. MSDs, like MarineFAST, have been installed on some of the world’s greenest ships to help lessen the environmental impact of contaminants in their wastewater.


Canada issued their Pollution Prevention Regulations for the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. A production FAST Model 40D passed all tests with results that were so outstanding that the testing laboratory personnel were amazed. Additional tests were run for US Coast Guard and the results were similarly outstanding


Smith & Loveless, Inc. (S&L, owned by RLR Holdings) purchased Scienco® Systems and merged it with FAST® Systems into what is now known as Scienco/FAST Systems while serving its diverse markets.  Also, proprietary industrial tablets, known as Mighty Mike™ , were developed for the U.S. Navy to keep ships drains and pipes clear of Calcium and FOG.


BioMicrobics, Inc., founded by RLR Holdings, was to specifically develop, manufacture, and market the residential SingleHomeFAST® wastewater treatment systems for the domestic and international marketplace.


Scienco/FAST reintroduces the Scienco® SciCHLOR® system with the improvements made to the SciCELL® unit.  The SciCELL performs all the electrolytic conversion of the brine water to optimum levels of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) from 10-pound [chlorine equivalent] to produce 150 gallons per day of sodium hypochlorite to 60-pound [chlorine equivalent] to produce 900 gallons per day of sodium hypochlorite. 
Improvements made the SciBRINE® LEVETROL® SR “Smart Relay” controllers to automate salt/water levels, alerts for high/low water level alarms, etc. to the Scienco® SciBRINE® Brinemakers that use the advantages of down-flow processes to ensure consistent, near saturated brine with easy maintenance. SciBRINE® systems are built to meet the standards of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) food processing requirements.


BioMicrobics has since become a world leader in manufacturing onsite residential, community, and commercial wastewater and stormwater treatment systems and the two companies were formally joined in 2009.


A production MarineFAST® Model L-3X passed all tests for MARPOL 2010 / MEPC.159(55) with results every bit as outstanding as those achieved in 1978.  Below are the guidelines used to meet treatment requirements imposed by MEPC.159(55):
  1. In a suspended growth system (like the BioMicrobics RollsAIR Systems), the microbes and sewage solids are submerged and are kept in suspension by the agitation associated with aeration.  The contents flow out through a clarifier or sedimentation tank and the clear supernatant can be disinfected and discharged to the sea. The suspended solids settle in the clarifier and are returned to the aeration tank.  These increase the concentration of microbes in the aeration tank and accelerate the process by increasing the microorganism to food ratio.  Eventually however, some of the suspended solids (sludge) must be separately discharged and dealt with to prevent an excess from being discharged with the effluent. Because it uses tanks without internal structures, this is the most economical process, especially for very large systems such as those treating municipal sewage.
  2. A fixed-media system (like the MarineFAST or any other FAST System) has naturally microbes from the influent (wastewater) growing on fixed surfaces rather than suspended in water provide different process characteristics.  These microbes include not only aerobes but also anaerobes and facultative microorganisms as well (facultative microorganisms are switch hitters – they can operate with or without oxygen).   All are present because as new layers of microbes attach to media surfaces, they block the access of the layers below to food and oxygen.  The under-layers remain alive but become inert.  They then provide food for the aerobes during periods of light loading and act as the reserves ready to go into action during periods of heavy loading. One term used to describe this is sludge age, the amount of activated sludge in the tank divided by the amount of new biodegradable material entering the tank every day.  It indicates a “flywheel effect” as it measures the ability of the process to deal with variations in loading.   The sludge age in a FAST fixed film system is approximately 100 days.  By comparison, sludge ages for typical suspended growth processes are 3 to 15 days for activated sludge and 15 to 30 days for extended aeration. This more complex biota also includes higher ordered microorganisms such as sludge worms that predate upon the simpler life forms and substantially reduce the net rate of sludge accumulation. The fixed film processes produce less sludge, provide faster startup and transient responses and are relatively unaffected by wide variations in hydraulic and organic loading.  That means that they can provide more consistent treatment in the variable marine environment without the intervention of trained operators.
  3. In a trickling filter (like SeptiTech’s STAAR System), a pump sprays sewage onto the top of a rigid media bed, the sewage flows down through the media, comes into contact with microbes on the media surface and then is pumped back to the top.  It does require a clarifier, but its greatest advantage is that the tank can be very lightly constructed as it doesn’t have to hold or withstand any head of water.  
  4. Moving bed bioreactors (MBBR Systems) employ loose pieces of process media suspended in the aeration tank to provide a similar process of fixed-film media systems and require an additional clarifier to separate excess sludge from the effluent prior to disinfection and discharge. Although the clarifier is the weak link in these processes, it also provides a simple means of removing the sludge for separate disposal.
  5. A membrane bioreactor (BioBarrier MBR) is a variation of the suspended growth process.  A membrane prevents suspended solids from escaping the aeration tank and the effluent is typically of very high quality, much better than required by the regulations. Some of the solids from the aeration tank must be separately discharged and dealt with to prevent an excessively high solids concentration from prematurely fouling the membranes and reducing effluent flow. When nitrogen removal is required, such as for MEPC.227(64) and in many land applications, MBR’s offer significant advantages.  They can also be very compact when other means are available to deal with the resulting sludge. But, a major difference between membrane and non-membrane systems is the fact that an upset will foul the membranes and stop the flow of sewage.  Even though effluent may not meet standards during the recovery period, non-membrane processes will permit the continued use of sanitary facilities without manual intervention until the problem can be corrected.

Disinfection Options

  1. The most common form of disinfecting effluent is chlorination.  It is widely used because it is simple, economical and effective. However, current effluent restrictions effectively require its removal prior to discharge, as the residuals specified in MEPC.159(55) and VGP 2013, 0.5 mg/l and 10 µg/l respectively are not sufficient to ensure reliable disinfection.
  2. If the MBR (certified to EN12566-3 and NSF/ANSI Standard 350 for Water Reuse) membranes bioreactors are suitably selected for the vessel, they will filter out the bacteria measured in the certification test and do not require additional disinfection.
  3. As mentioned below, we employed ultraviolet (UV) disinfection for many units provided under Canadian Great Lakes rules beginning in 1977.  The quartz sleeves were submerged in the effluent and any upset of the biological treatment results in the quartz being fouled, reducing the intensity of radiation available for disinfection.  This didn’t happen very often in everyday service, but it did occur often enough to be a problem and maintenance intensive.   Also, mineral deposits interfere with UV transmission and must be cleaned with acid on a regular basis. By comparison, the chlorine injection system is not immersed in the effluent and is not adversely affected by such upsets.
  4. The use of PAA (Peracetic Acid) is an environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine.  PAA eliminates the adverse effects of chlorine and its use permits a substantial simplification and reduction in cost for disinfection systems meeting MARPOL and stops the use of unrestricted dilution to pass certification tests.


Passenger Yacht Code (PYC) | MACI

An update to the code involving passenger vessels that carry 12 to 36 passengers do not have to build to the full SOLAS passenger vessel standards, with the exception of vessels equipped with a type-approved wastewater treatment system that meets effluent discharge requirements of less than 10mg/l of Nitrogen and less than 1.0mg/l of Phosphorus.
However, in a study performed in 2012, it concluded that “a significant number of treatment systems did not meet the existing standards, due to improper use of detergent, a lack of maintenance, or simply because operators failed to follow the plant manufacturer’s operating instructions”.
Given the increasing trend for expedition-type yachting in ecologically sensitive areas, this new regulation made some lesser technologies incompatible as MEPC 227(64) changes both discharge requirements and test protocols. It has the specific aim of reducing nitrogen and phosphorous from passenger vessel treated water discharges, preventing the acceleration of nitrification of the seas. Many technologies in use on larger yachts have, until now, used technologies that depend on dilution and chemical sterilization to achieve permitted effluent standard. However, as many have said in the marine industry, “dilution is not a solution to pollution; it is not treating the waste, only reshaping it.”
Retrofit sales with MarineFAST systems have increased since then to address the change in regulations.


Scienco/FAST was awarded the “2015 Innovation in Marine Environmental Technology” Offshore Excellence Award and named a finalist for the Lloyd’s List “2016 North American Maritime” Awards in the Innovation Category.


BioMicrobics, Scienco/FAST, and SeptiTech Systems were awarded the “2017 North American Integrated Water Treatment Technology Leadership Award” from Frost & Sullivan Institute. Frost & Sullivan’s (F&S) global team of analysts and consultants continuously research a wide range of markets across multiple sectors and geographies. As part of this ongoing research, F&S identifies companies that consistently invest in new technologies, allowing them to carve out a unique and defensible position within their industries. This involves extensive primary and secondary research across the entire value chain of specific products and/or technologies.
“Against the backdrop of this research, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to recognize BioMicrobics as the Technology Leader in integrated water treatment,” said David Frigstad, Chairman, Frost & Sullivan. “To exhibit leadership in technology is never an easy task, but it is one made even more difficult considering today’s competitive intensity, customer volatility, and economic uncertainty—not to mention the difficulty of innovating in an environment of escalating challenges to intellectual property. Within this context, your receipt of this Award signifies an even greater accomplishment.”

*MarineFAST provides operation longevity (the oldest still in operation MarineFAST was installed on the M/V American Beauty operated by ARTCO in 1975) and treats any combination of wastewater including saltwater/freshwater from onboard systems such as conventional and vacuum toilets, laundry machines, garbage disposal and showers. This enables operators to meet stringent wastewater requirements, while optimising their vessels’ operational performance and ensure they comply with evolving regulations.

** Test reports are available upon request


The regulations have changed several times during the past 40+ years and we have continuously updated and upgraded our units to meet the latest regulations and to take advantage of technical developments.  The most recent of these changes are:

  • Approvals from US Coast Guard and Transport Canada using peracetic acid (PAA) as a disinfectant instead of chlorine.  PAA is environmentally friendly, eliminates the adverse effects of chlorine and its use permits a substantial simplification and reduction in cost for disinfection systems meeting MARPOL.
  • Certification under MEPC.227(64) with PAA.  To us, the most significant effect of MEPC.227(64) is that it stops the use of unrestricted dilution to pass certification tests.