One of the most crucial processes in biosolids management is stabilisation, which is typically accomplished using either anaerobic or aerobic digestion processes. Although there are many advantages to both of these methods – such as reduction of volatile organic matter, pathogen content, and offensive odours – one common disadvantage is that digested biosolids exhibit poor dewaterability characteristics. The deterioration in dewaterability of digested biosolids leads to increases in polymer requirements, connoting higher conditioning costs. Many studies have examined this phenomenon based on conventional filterability tests such as capillary suction time and specific resistance to filtration. However, these test methods are limited in their ability to predict full-scale dewatering behaviour (particularly in centrifugation), and do not regard handling properties as being important for sludge transport. For this purpose, new rheometric methods may assist in predicting sludge behaviour, potentially allowing optimisation of stabilisation and conditioning processes relative to the desired sludge properties. This paper investigates the possible utility of these methods. Classical methods for characterising biosolids, such as filtration tests, are compared with yield stress values and other rheological properties as determined using the steady-shear rate sweep test. The rheological behaviours are compared for different sludge types, including raw and polymer conditioned thermophilic anaerobically, mesophilic anaerobically, and mesophilic aerobically digested biosolids. The paper demonstrates the determination of specific energy values associated with breakdown of the flocculated matrix. Robust modelling approaches are employed to optimise the conditioning of the digested samples, and to shed light on commonly used rheological models such as Bingham, Herschel-Bulkley, and Ostwald equations.

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