Geotechnical properties of municipal sewage sludge

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The geotechnical properties of municipal sewage sludge, in particular those pertinent to the handling and landfilling of the material, are presented. Index, drying, compaction, shear strength and consolidation tests were conducted on the material at different states of biodegradation. The organic content and specific gravity of solids were found to be inversely related, with typical organic contents of 50–70% and specific gravity of solids values of 1.55–1.80. The density of the compacted material was low in comparison with mineral soils. Standard Proctor compaction yielded a maximum dry density of 0.56 tonne/m3 at 85% water content. Laboratory vane-shear and triaxial compression tests indicated that, below about 180% water content, the shear strength of the sludge material increased exponentially with reducing water content. Consolidated-undrained triaxial compression tests on the pasteurised sludge material indicated an effective angle of shearing resistance of 32° for the moderately degraded material and 37° for the strongly degraded material. Biogas was produced at rates of up to 0.33 L/day/kg slurry due to ongoing biodegradation and the resulting pore pressure response must be taken into account in any stress analysis. Consolidation tests using the hydraulic consolidation cell, oedometer and triaxial apparatus indicated that the sludge material was highly compressible although practically impermeable, for example the coefficient of permeability for the moderately degraded slurry was of the order of 10−9m/s. However, creep deformation was significant with typical coefficient of secondary compression values of 0.02–0.08 for the compacted material. A more free-draining material was produced at higher states of biodegradation.

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