Sludge drying reed beds have been used for dewatering and mineralization of sludge since the beginning of the 90s, but their insufficient performances in terms of Dry Matter [DM] content and mineralization of the sludge have made necessary new studies. Therefore, 8 pilots of 2 m2 each and a full-scale plant (13,000 p.e, 8 beds of 470 m2 in operation for 4 years) have been monitored to examine the influence of the sludge loading rate, the sludge quality and the loading frequency on the dewatering and mineralization efficiencies. Two filtration layers and two loading rhythms were tested on pilots which were fed at a loading rate of 25–30 kg DM m−2 yr−1 during the first year of operation (commissioning period). Hydraulic behaviour (infiltration rate, outflow), O2 and CO2 relative concentrations in the filtration media, redox potential, pollutants removal and dry matter content were assessed during all the study. The rheological quality of the extracted sludge from full scale beds was assessed and showed that its mechanical behaviour exceed those of sludge of comparable dry matter content, making its spreading easier. Therefore, this sludge could easily claim the status of solid and stabilized sludge according to the French regulation. Design and management recommendations (number of beds, loading rates, feeding/rest period) gained from the experiments results are suggested.

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