Demonstration of FBRM as process analytical technology tool for dewatering processes via CST correlation
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The current challenges associated with the design and operation of net-energy positive wastewater treatment plants demand sophisticated approaches for the monitoring of polymer-induced flocculation. In anaerobic digestion (AD) processes, the dewaterability of the sludge is typically assessed from off-line lab-bench tests - the capillary suction time (CST) test is one of the most common. Focused beam reflectance measurement (FBRM) is a promising technique for real-time monitoring of critical performance attributes in large scale processes and is ideally suited for dewatering applications. The flocculation performance of twenty-four cationic polymers, that spanned a range of polymer size and charge properties, was measured using both the FBRM and CST tests. Analysis of the data revealed a decreasing monotonic trend; the samples that had the highest percent removal of particles less than 50 microns in size as determined by FBRM had the lowest CST values. A subset of the best performing polymers was used to evaluate the effects of dosage amount and digestate sources on dewatering performance. The results from this work show that FBRM is a powerful tool that can be used for optimization and on-line monitoring of dewatering processes.
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