Digital image analysis is a useful tool to estimate some morphological parameters of flocs and filamentous species in activated sludge wastewater treatment processes. In this work we found the correlation between some morphological parameters and sludge volume index (SVI). The sludge was taken from a pilot—scale activated sludge plant, owned by ENEA, located side stream to the Trebbo di Reno (Bologna, Italy) municipal WWTP and fed by domestic wastewater. In order to use image analysis, we developed a correct method to acquire digital microbiological observations and to obtain images altogether representative of the sludge properties. We identified and assessed the parameters needed to estimate the settleability of the sludge and evaluated the morphological filamentous features. It is known that several conditions (i.e. low F/M, nutrient deficiency, low dissolved oxygen) select specific filamentous species and their excessive growth decrease floc-forming/filaments ratio, correspond to the worse settleability properties; we found a relationship between the relative abundance of filamentous species and SVI. We also evaluated the fractal dimension parameter (FD) and determined a threshold value useful to distinguish between the “weak” and “firm” floc and we found a correlation between FD and SVI.

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