A rapid method of determining the structure of aggregated particles using small angle laser light scattering is applied here to assemblages of bacteria from wastewater treatment systems. The structure information so obtained is suggestive of fractal behaviour as found by other methods. Strong dependencies are shown to exist between the fractal structure of the bacterial aggregates and the behaviour of the biosolids in zone settling and dewatering by both pressure filtration and centrifugation methods. More rapid settling and significantly higher solids contents are achievable for “looser” flocs characterised by lower fractal dimensions. The rapidity of determination of structural information and the strong dependencies of the effectiveness of a number of wastewater treatment processes on aggregate structure suggests that this method may be particularly useful as an on-line control tool.

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