Water environment research : a research publication of the Water Environment Federation

Life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emission analysis for a water resource recovery facility in India.

PMID 23944144


This paper quantifies life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) in India versus water quality improvements achieved from infrastructure investments. A first such analysis is conducted using operating data for a WRRF, which employs upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors and oxidation. On-site operations energy use, process GHG emissions, and embodied energy in infrastructure were quantified. The analysis showed energy use and GHG emissions of 0.2 watt-hours (Wh) and 0.3 gram carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents per liter (gCO2e/L) wastewater treated, and 1.3 Wh and 2.1 gCO2e/gBOD removed, achieving 81% biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and 999% fecal coliform removal annually. Process emissions of WRRFs contributed 44% of life cycle GHG emissions, similar in magnitude to those from electricity (46%), whereas infrastructure contributed 10%. Average WRRF-associated GHG emissions (0.9gCO2e/L) were lower than those expected if untreated wastewater was released to the river. Investments made by WRRFs in developing world cities improve water quality and may mitigate overall GHG emissions.