Shear Rate

FIG. 7.19.2 Typical rheogram for a sludge. Projecting the straight line portion of the pseudoplastic curve to the zero shear rate gives the apparent yield stress.


FIG. 7.19.1 Shear diagram of Newtonian and nonNewtonian fluids.

ply standard hydraulic formulas for fluid friction without correction. The viscosity term is meaningful for pseudoplastic materials only at a known and fixed shear rate.

For light sludges, such as activated sludge, errors occur when the viscosity is assumed to be that of water and the common formulas are used. For thickened sludge or raw sludge, however, considerable errors can result (Zandi 1971). The simplest method is for environmental engineers to use the Hazen-Williams formula and adjust coefficient C as required.

In one study (Brisbin 1957), raw sludge was pumped through a 4-in and 6-in line, and the head losses were measured. Table 7.19.1 shows the resulting data.

For valves and fittings (minor losses), environmental engineers should calculate equivalent lengths of pipe for pure water and apply the correction factors to the equivalent pipe length. The following equation gives the Hazen-Williams formula:


V = velocity in feet per second

R = hydraulic radius in feet

S = slope of energy gradient in feet per feet

The friction coefficient C is a function of the pipe material and age. The formula was originally developed for water, and its application for sludge, as shown on Table 7.19.1, requires modifications of C.

Velocity in pipes is also important because at low velocities laminar flow can be attained. For pseudoplastic materials, this velocity forces the flow into the central core of the pipe only, with stagnant sludge near the wall. Such plug flow can cause troublesome operation. Velocities between 5 and 8 fps should be maintained.

Clogged sludge lines are one of the most annoying problems for wastewater treatment plant operators. All lines should be as large as possible (8 or 6 in is usually a minimum size), and cleanouts should be provided wherever possible. Long radius elbows and sweep tees also should be used. High and low points should be avoided; the high points result in gas pockets, and the low points clog easily with large or heavy objects.

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