Comprehensive life cycle inventories of alternative wastewater treatment systems

Foley, Jeffrey, de Haas, David, Hartley, Ken and Lant, Paul (2010) Comprehensive life cycle inventories of alternative wastewater treatment systems. Water Research, 44 5: 1654-1666. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2009.11.031

Author Foley, Jeffrey
de Haas, David
Hartley, Ken
Lant, Paul
Title Comprehensive life cycle inventories of alternative wastewater treatment systems
Journal name Water Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0043-1354
Publication date 2010-03
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2009.11.031
Volume 44
Issue 5
Start page 1654
End page 1666
Total pages 13
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher IWA Publishing
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
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.
© 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword Life cycle inventory
Biological nutrient removal
Nutrient recovery
Global environmental impacts
Effluent standards
Greenhouse gas
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
Advanced Water Management Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 96 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 96 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 04 Apr 2010, 00:00:25 EST