Advances in technological control of greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater in the context of circular economy

This review paper aims to identify the main sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and highlights the technologies developed for CO2 capture in this milieu. CO2 is emitted in all the operational units of conventional WWTPs and even after the disposal of treated effluents and sludges. CO2 emissions from wastewater can be captured or mitigated by several technologies such as the production of biochar from sludge, the application of constructed wetlands (CWs), the treatment of wastewater in microbial electrochemical processes (microbial electrosynthesis, MES; microbial electrolytic carbon capture, MECC; in microbial carbon capture, MCC), and via microalgal cultivation. Sludge-to-biochar and CW systems showed a high cost-effectiveness in the capture of CO2, while MES, MECC, MCC technologies, and microalgal cultivation offered efficient capture of CO2 with associate production of value-added by-products. At the state-of-the-art, these technologies, utilized for carbon capture and utilization from wastewater, require more research for further configuration, development and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, the integration of these technologies has a potential internal rate of return (IRR) that could equate the operation or provide additional revenue to wastewater management. In the context of circular economy, these carbon capture technologies will pave the way for new sustainable concepts of WWTPs, as an essential element for the mitigation of climate change fostering the transition to a decarbonised economy.

Additional Info

  • Year: 2021
  • Authors: Pahunang R.R., Buonerba A., Senatore V., Oliva G., Ouda M., Zarra T., Muñoz R., Puig S., Ballesteros F.C., Jr., Li C.-W., Hasan S.W., Belgiorno V.
  • Reference: Science of the Total Environment, Volume 79220, October 2021, Article number 148479

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Laboratory of Chemical and Enviromental Engineering

Institut de Medi Ambient
Universitat de Girona
Campus Montilivi
17003 Girona

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17003 Girona
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