The effect of ultrasonic disintegration process conditions on the physicochemical characteristics of excess sludge

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Ultrasonic disintegration, as a method of sludge pre-treatment (before the stabilization process), causes changes in their physicochemical characteristics. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of ultrasonic disintegration conditions (sonication) on the changes in the physicochemical characteristics of sonicated sludge, i.e. an increase in the content of organic substances in the supernatant, sludge dewaterability and flocs structure. Thickened and non-thickened excess sludge from the municipal wastewater treatment plant in Gliwice was disintegrated. The process was conducted, using a high-power disintegrator equipped with a lenticular horn. In order to determine the most favorable conditions, the sewage sludge was sonicated at a wave frequency of f=25 kHz (as a function of time), with a different samples volume (V1=0.5 and V2=1 L) and emitter position of 1 and the 2.5 cm from the bottom of the chamber in which the process was conducted. The disintegration of sewage sludge was carried out with a specific energy density (EV) in the range from 10 to 30 kWh/m3. The evaluation of the disintegration effects was based on changes in the physicochemical characteristics of the sludge and/or supernatant at the end of the process, expressed by commonly used and author’s disintegration indicators. The best results were obtained for the sludge disintegrated with a volume of V2=1 L and the emitter position of 2.5 cm from the bottom of the chamber. The study confirms that in various operating conditions of ultrasonic disintegration, there is a possibility for obtaining different effects which may influence the course of anaerobic stabilization and quality of the final products of the process.

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