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Comparative characterization of surface sludge deposits from fourteen French Vertical Flow Constructed Wetlands sewage treatment plants using biological, chemical and thermal indices

Kania, M., Gautier, M., Imig, A., Michel, P., Gourdon, R.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.647 pp. 464-473
biodegradability, elemental composition, ferric chloride, organic matter, phosphorus, sewage treatment, sludge, total suspended solids, trace elements, wastewater, wetlands
Due to their design and mode of operation, French Vertical Flow Constructed Wetlands (VFCWs) accumulate suspended solids from the inflow wastewater in the form of a sludge layer at the surface of the first filter. In order to maintain the treatment performance over the long term, the characteristics of the sludge deposits and their evolution have to be well described. In this objective, a panel of sludge deposit samples taken from 14 French VFCW sewage treatment plants was investigated. Elemental composition and organic matter content, nature and reactivity were analyzed. Results clearly revealed two categories of sludge deposits, namely the “young-age plants” type (1 year of operation and less) and the “mature plants” type (3 years of operation and more). Sludge deposits from the “mature plants” exhibited same biological, physical and chemical properties. Their organic matter was globally less abundant, more humified and less biodegradable than in the young-age plants type. Their overall contents in trace metals were also higher, although in a limited manner. The effect of additional treatments, particularly FeCl3 injection for phosphorus precipitation, was observable in the “young-age plants” group. Finally, the sludge deposits sampled from one particular plant with specific operating conditions were found to exhibit very different characteristics from those of either groups identified. This observation underlined the influence of local conditions on the typology of the sludge deposits.