A one-step acidification strategy for sewage sludge dewatering with oxalic acid

Na Chen, Shuangyi Tao, Keke Xiao, Sha Liang, Jiakuan Yang, Lizhi Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Sewage sludge dewatering is an efficient approach to reduce the volume of sludge for the subsequent disposal. In this study, a novel one-step acidification sludge dewatering method was developed with using oxalic acid as a conditioner. In laboratory-scale experiments with the dosage of 200 mg/g dry solid (DS), the normalized capillary suction time and the specific resistance to filtration were respectively decreased by 78.7% and 60.0% after 30 min of oxalic acid conditioning, much more efficient than those conditioned with sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid at the same pH value. This superior dewatering performance was attributed to two factors. One was that oxalic acid could more efficiently promote the hydrolysis of polysaccharide, especially pectins, to release bound water. The other was that OA could dissolve more Fe3+ and Al3+, as well as form precipitate with Ca2+ in sludge, which may act as flocculants or co-precipitator for the subsequent sludge particles coagulation. In pilot-scale experiments, the water content of oxalic acid conditioned sludge cake was reduced to 60% under the optimum conditions, while the reagent cost was as low as 110.0 USD/t DS. This work provides a cost-effective and easy-operated sewage sludge disposal technique, and also sheds light on the potential of oxalic acid in environmental waste treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124598
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Extracellular polymeric substances
  • Hydrolysis
  • Oxalic acid
  • Pectins
  • Sewage sludge dewatering


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