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A comparative environmental life-cycle analysis for removing phosphorus from wastewater: biological versus physical/ chemical processes.

Authors
  • Coats, Erik R
  • Watkins, David L
  • Kranenburg, Dan
Type
Published Article
Journal
Water environment research : a research publication of the Water Environment Federation
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2011
Volume
83
Issue
8
Pages
750–760
Identifiers
PMID: 21905412
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Phosphorus can be removed from wastewater biologically, chemically, or through a combination of the two. In this study, we applied environmental life-cycle assessment to develop a metric with which decision-makers can compare processes. Two phosphorus-removal scenarios were contrasted-one based on a desktop-level design and one based on full-scale operational data. To achieve 0.5 mg/L effluent phosphorus (desktop design), a biological-only process would incur 5.2% less effect on global warming potential, as contrasted with a chemical-only process. At an effluent quality of 0.1 mg/L (full-scale facilities), where a biological process augmented with chemicals was contrasted with a chemical-only process, the relative gap increases to 13.2%. As chemical usage increased, the adverse environmental effect of chemical treatment only increased. The results of this study suggest that best practices would center phosphorus removal first on the biological process, with chemical processes added only as necessary.

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