Affiliation: King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Box 1150, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia.
In order to optimize sludge depth in sand drying beds under the climatic conditions of Saudi Arabia, the effect of sludge initial depth on the physical and chemical characteristics of dried municipal sludge samples was investigated. The investigation was carried out for one year at Al-Khobar Wastewater Treatment Plant, where initial sludge depths of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 cm were implemented. Sludge samples were collected after 0, 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, and 30 days of drying and were analyzed for certain potential parameters such as total solids, oil and grease, and heavy metals. The study showed that the effect of the initial sludge depth in drying beds on the physical and chemical characteristics under investigation was apparent in some cases, while was not clearly demonstrated in others. As an example, the reduction of initial water content, in 30-day dried sludge samples, was increased from 43.8 to 51 percent as the sludge initial depth was reduced from 35 to 10 cm, respectively. On the other hand, the effect of initial sludge depth on the pH, alkalinity, oil content, and concentration of heavy metals was not clear and did not show a consistent pattern.