MSE Research Project Database

Dry stacking - A new paradigm in the design and operation of solar evaporation pans for wastewater treatment sludges

Project Leader: Anthony Stickland
Staff: Anthony Stickland, Peter Scales, David Dixon
Collaborators: Catherine Rees (Melbourne Water), Mukundan Devadas (Melbourne Water)
Sponsors: Melbourne Water
Primary Contact: Anthony Stickland (
Keywords: effluent treatment; separation processes; Solid-Liquid Systems; water resources
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences, Optimisation of resources and infrastructure
Research Centre: Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC)

The wastewater treatment industry uses evaporation pans to store and dry thickened residual solids. Melbourne Water is constructing new drying pans at the Eastern and Western treatment plants to overcome capacity issues. An alternative evaporation technique, dry stacking, has had large impact in the mineral industry but has not been previously applied in the wastewater treatment industry. This project will develop a mathematical model of the initial flow and subsequent consolidation during dry stacking of particulate suspensions, measure the flow and consolidation properties of wastewater treatment sludges, validate the model through comparison with laboratory and on-site performance, and optimise the process design and operation based on the model predictions. The project outcomes will be implemented in the new drying pans, with potential capital avoidance and operating cost savings in excess of $40M.