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      A critical review on life cycle assessment and plant-wide models towards emission control strategies for greenhouse gas from wastewater treatment plants

      , , , , , ,

      Journal of Environmental Management

      Elsevier BV

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          Life cycle assessment applied to wastewater treatment: state of the art.

          Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a technique to quantify the impacts associated with a product, service or process from cradle-to-grave perspective. Within the field of wastewater treatment (WWT) LCA was first applied in the 1990s. In the pursuit of more environmentally sustainable WWT, it is clear that LCA is a valuable tool to elucidate the broader environmental impacts of design and operation decisions. With growing interest from utilities, practitioners, and researchers in the use of LCA in WWT systems, it is important to make a review of what has been achieved and describe the challenges for the forthcoming years. This work presents a comprehensive review of 45 papers dealing with WWT and LCA. The analysis of the papers showed that within the constraints of the ISO standards, there is variability in the definition of the functional unit and the system boundaries, the selection of the impact assessment methodology and the procedure followed for interpreting the results. The need for stricter adherence to ISO methodological standards to ensure quality and transparency is made clear and emerging challenges for LCA applications in WWT are discussed, including: a paradigm shift from pollutant removal to resource recovery, the adaptation of LCA methodologies to new target compounds, the development of regional factors, the improvement of the data quality and the reduction of uncertainty. Finally, the need for better integration and communication with decision-makers is highlighted.
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            Comprehensive life cycle inventories of alternative wastewater treatment systems.

            Over recent decades, the environmental regulations on wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) have trended towards increasingly stringent nutrient removal requirements for the protection of local waterways. However, such regulations typically ignore other environmental impacts that might accompany apparent improvements to the WWTP. This paper quantitatively defines the life cycle inventory of resources consumed and emissions produced in ten different wastewater treatment scenarios (covering six process configurations and nine treatment standards). The inventory results indicate that infrastructure resources, operational energy, direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and chemical consumption generally increase with increasing nitrogen removal, especially at discharge standards of total nitrogen <5 mgN L(-1). Similarly, infrastructure resources and chemical consumption increase sharply with increasing phosphorus removal, but operational energy and direct GHG emissions are largely unaffected. These trends represent a trade-off of negative environmental impacts against improved local receiving water quality. However, increased phosphorus removal in WWTPs also represents an opportunity for increased resource recovery and reuse via biosolids applied to agricultural land. This study highlights that where biosolids displace synthetic fertilisers, a negative environmental trade-off may also occur by increasing the heavy metals discharged to soil. Proper analysis of these positive and negative environmental trade-offs requires further life cycle impact assessment and an inherently subjective weighting of competing environmental costs and benefits.
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              Environmental and economic profile of six typologies of wastewater treatment plants

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Environmental Management
                Journal of Environmental Management
                Elsevier BV
                03014797
                June 2020
                June 2020
                : 264
                : 110440
                Article
                10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110440
                © 2020

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