Floc density measurement and the effects of microproperty variations on sludge dewatering characteristics

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Virginia Tech

The dewatering characteristics of sludges produced by water and wastewater treatment plants bear heavily on the methods chosen to treat and dispose of the sludge, as well as on the costs associated with handling the large volumes of sludge produced at these facilities. This study investigated why different sludges dewater to different dry solids concentrations, how sludge structure affects dewatering, and how sludge structure changes during gravity thickening and during different types of mechanical dewatering.

It is generally thought that sludge can be described as having a three-tiered structure: (1) primary particles, (2) floc particles, and (3) aggregate particles. To investigate sludge structure in relation to sludge dewatering, this study has defined sludge structure using several sludge particle micro properties. A laboratory technique incorporating isopycnic centrifugation in gradients of PercollR media was developed to measure one micro property known as floc particle density. Six field and laboratory sludges were subjected to a series of dewatering tests: gravity thickening, centrifugation, and vacuum filtration. Each sludge was analyzed for macro- and micro properties through each stage of dewatering. It was concluded that improvements in thickening and dewatering characteristics were heavily dependent upon increases in sludge floc density and decreases in aggregate water content.