Effects of ultrasound on suspended particles in municipal wastewater
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The objective of this research is to explore the fundamental characteristics of how particles in wastewater respond to ultrasound, with an aim to improve wastewater disinfection. Particles of a predetermined size fraction and concentration were treated with varying doses of ultrasound at 20.3 kHz. Ultrasonic power transfer to the fluid was measured using calorimetry or acoustical measurements. Image analysis particle counting was used to measure the size distribution of particles before and after ultrasound treatment. The influence of three parameters: particle origin (raw wastewater or from the aeration basin of the activated sludge process), particle concentration, and particle size on the percentage of particle breakage after ultrasound treatment was compared. It was found that raw wastewater and aeration basin particles of the same size fraction (90-106 microm) responded to ultrasound in a similar way. Particle breakage was not affected by changes in particle concentration from 100 to 400 particles per mL. Larger wastewater particles (90-250 microm) were more susceptible to breakage than smaller ones (38-63 microm diameter). The percentage of particle breakage increased linearly with a logarithmic increase in the ultrasound energy density, that is the ultrasound energy delivered per unit volume of the sample (R(2)=0.48-0.91). An expression that predicts the percent of particles broken as a function of ultrasound energy density is provided.
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