Viscous and filamentous bulking in activated sludge: Rheological and hydrodynamic modelling based on experimental data

V. Bakos, B. Gyarmati, P. Csizmadia, S. Till, L. Vachoud, P. Nagy Göde, G. M. Tardy, A. Szilágyi, A. Jobbágy, C. Wisniewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although achieving good activated sludge settleability is a key requirement for meeting effluent quality criteria, wastewater treatment plants often face undesired floc structure changes. Filamentous bulking has widely been studied, however, viscous sludge formation much less investigated so far. Our main goal was to find relationship between sludge floc structure and related rheological properties, moreover, to estimate pressure loss in pipe networks through hydrodynamic modelling of the non-Newtonian flows in case of well settling (ideal-like), viscous and filamentous sludge. Severe viscous and filamentous kinds of bulking were generated separately in continuous-flow lab-scale systems initially seeded with the same reference (ideal-like) biomass and the entire evolution of viscous and filamentous bulking was monitored. The results suggested correlation between the rheological properties and the floc structure transformations, and showed the most appropriate fit for the Herschel-Bulkley model (vs. Power-law and Bingham). Validated computational fluid dynamics studies estimated the pipe pressure loss in a wide Reynolds number range for the initial well settling (reference) and the final viscous and filamentous sludge as well. A practical standard modelling protocol was developed for improving energy efficiency of sludge pumping in different floc structure scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118155
JournalWater Research
Early online date3 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • Activated sludge
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Filamentous bulking
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Non-Newtonian flow
  • Viscous bulking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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