Impacts of shearing and temperature on sewage sludge: Rheological characterisation and integration to flow assessment

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Accurate rheological characterisation of sewage waste activated sludge (WAS) is of high importance for downstream processing related to optimised sludge pumping and mixing, assessment of energy demands and overall process design. However, to elaborate rheological behaviour is often challenging under dynamic operational conditions in practice. In this study, two practical influencing factors were investigated: long-term shearing and temperature. Compared to anaerobic digestate (DGT), concentrated WAS had more complex and stronger thixotropic behaviour. Under the long-term shearing conditions, the sludge thixotropic behaviour was well characterised by two quantified limitation states. Temperature had a striking impact on the rheological properties, which was strongly correlated to solids content and digestion process. The impact discrepancy between the long-term shearing and temperature, implied different mechanisms to shift the equilibrium of hydrodynamic and non-hydrodynamic interactions for structure deformation and recovery. The distinct rheological properties between the two determined states were clearly reflected in pipe flow behaviour, revealing a concrete link between lab-measured sludge rheology and its practical flow performance. The pipe flows were well assessed using the developed Computational Fluid Dynamics model with effective rheological data integration, which is promising for practical design and optimisation of sewage sludge systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145005
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Pipe flow
  • Rheology
  • Sewage sludge
  • Temperature
  • Thixotropy

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