A feasibility study of in-line rheological characterisation of a wastewater sludge using ultrasound technology

28 Jun 2016

The rheological characteristics of sludge affect transportation, treatment and the disposal processes involved in sludge system design and management operations such as dewatering, including flocculation and filtration. The concentration of solid matter in the sludge has an effect on rheological parameters such as yield stress and viscosity. These rheological properties of sludge are almost exclusively obtained today using commercially available instruments, such as conventional rotational rheometers or tube (capillary) viscometers. Since these methods are time-consuming and unsuitable for realtime process monitoring, the ultrasonic velocity profiling coupled with pressure drop (UVP+PD) methodology becomes very attractive for in-line flow behaviour monitoring for quality control and process optimisation. The main objective of this research work was to evaluate the UVP+PD technique in a concentrated sludge as found in a wastewater treatment plant. A portable pump test rig with tube viscometer fitted with a UVP+PD system was used to determine the rheological parameters. Conventional UVP installation techniques were tested as well as a new delay line UVP transducer. The results obtained from different installation techniques and transducers are compared. Finally, rheological parameters obtained using UVP+PD compared within 15% of that obtained using the tube viscometer. The results showed that UVP+PD is a feasible and promising technique for in-line real time flow visualisation and rheological characterisation for treated wastewater sludge which, when used as in-line process control, could lead to significant savings in chemicals and will optimise processes producing drier sludges and filter cakes.