A novel on-line method and system for characterisation of sludge flocs in view of improving sludge dewatering has been developed. The characterisation of sludge flocs was carried out after the conditioning or the flocculation process. The system uses a conventional CCD-line scan camera providing an on-line monitoring of the relative floc size distribution by image processing procedures. The image processing procedure has been re-evaluated and adapted to the practical dewatering results, obtained from a chamber filter press of 250 × 250 mm size. A good correlation between the calculated sensor signal and the sludge dewaterability of digested sludge in terms of the up-concentration factor was found. Although different sludge compositions and flocculation systems have been tested within the whole experimental period of six months, a good reproducibility of this correlation was also found. A well balanced floc size distribution is necessary showing that not too many but still some fine flocs and also not too large but compact flocs lead to improved dewaterability. This has been illustrated by an extended range of floc size measurements ranging between 50 mm and 29 mm. The conditioning monitoring system would be suitable for the control of production of good size-balanced flocs to compensate fluctuations in sludge characteristics of the sludge to be conditioned.

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