EXCHANGE Volume 01, No. 1, 2023, pp. 68-74

Lailai HUANG

Current status of research on carbon emissions and combined benefits in wastewater treatment

Abstract: According to the United Nations, the global carbon footprint of the water treatment industry, including wastewater treatment, accounts for approximately 2% of global carbon emissions. As a result, it is becoming increasingly critical to reduce carbon emissions from the wastewater treatment sector. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) currently exist in two forms: above-ground and underground. With the development of urbanization, increased population density, and land constraints, the trend is gradually shifting towards underground WWTPs. But there are many challenges. The investment costs during the construction phase, building materials, and energy requirements are much higher for underground sewage treatment plants compared to above-ground ones. Additionally, during the operation phase, energy consumption is higher and there are high risk factors to consider. The aforementioned elements will undeniably affect the complete life span of carbon emissions from sewage treatment facilities. Additionally, the advantages, both environmentally and economically, of subterranean WWTPs do not necessarily surpass those of above-ground WWTPs. At present, the lack of a systematic approach towards accounting and assessing the carbon footprint of underground WWTPs is a significant issue. This not only prevents an accurate understanding of the environmental impact of such facilities but also hinders efforts to reduce their carbon emissions. Moreover, the absence of a comprehensive review of the benefits of these facilities further compounds this problem. Therefore, a thorough analysis of the carbon, environmental, and economic aspects of underground WWTPs is necessary to reveal the true relationship between their comprehensive benefits, carbon emissions, and energy consumption.

Keywords: Wastewater treatment plant; carbon footprint; underground; combined benefits.