This study describes a novel wastewater treatment technology suitable for small remote northern communities. The technology is based on an enhanced biodegradation of organic carbon through a combination of anaerobic methanogenic and microbial electrochemical (bioelectrochemical) degradation processes leading to biomethane production. The microbial electrochemical degradation is achieved in a membraneless flow-through bioanode-biocathode setup operating at an applied voltage below the water electrolysis threshold. Laboratory wastewater treatment tests conducted through a broad range of mesophilic and psychrophilic temperatures (5-23 °C) using synthetic wastewater showed a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) removal efficiency of 90-97% and an effluent BOD5 concentration as low as 7 mg L-1. An electricity consumption of 0.6 kWh kg-1 of chemical oxygen demand (COD) removed was observed. Low energy consumption coupled with enhanced methane production led to a net positive energy balance in the bioelectrochemical treatment system.
Wastewaters contain complex mixtures of chemicals, which can cause adverse toxic effects in the receiving environment. In the present study, the toxicity removal during wastewater treatment at seven municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) was investigated using an effect-based approach. A battery of eight bioassays was applied comprising of cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, endocrine disruption and fish embryo toxicity assays. Human cell-based CALUX assays, transgenic larval models and the fish embryo toxicity test were particularly sensitive to WWTP effluents. The results indicate that most effects were significantly reduced or completely removed during wastewater treatment (76-100%), while embryo toxicity, estrogenic activity and thyroid disruption were still detectable in the effluents suggesting that some harmful substances remain after treatment. The responsiveness of the bioassays was compared and the human cell-based CALUX assays showed highest responsiveness in the samples. Additionally, the fish embryo toxicity test and the transgenic larval models for endocrine disrupting effects showed high responsiveness at low sample concentrations in nearly all of the effluent samples. The results showed a similar effect pattern among all WWTPs investigated, indicating that the wastewater composition could be rather similar at different locations. There were no considerable differences in the toxicity removal efficiencies of the treatment plants and no correlation was observed with WWTP characteristics, such as process configuration or sludge age. This study demonstrated that a biotest battery comprising of multiple endpoints can serve as a powerful tool when assessing water quality or water treatment efficiency in a holistic manner. Rather than analyzing the concentrations of a few selected chemicals, bioassays can be used to complement traditional methods of monitoring in the future by assessing sum-parameter based effects, such as mixture effects, and tackling chemicals that are present at concentrations below chemical analytical detection limits.
Several micropollutants show low removal efficiencies in conventional sewage treatment plants, and therefore enter the aquatic environment. To reduce the levels of micropollutants in sewage effluent, and thereby the effects on biota, a number of extra treatment steps are currently being evaluated. Two such techniques are ozonation and adsorption onto activated carbon. In this study, we investigated the efficiency of Sweden's first full-scale ozonation treatment plant at removing a number of antibiotics, antimycotics and biocides. The effect of adding granular activated carbon (GAC) on a pilot scale and pilot-scale ozonation were also evaluated. The conventional treatment (13,000 PE) with the add-on of full-scale ozonation (0.55?g?O3/g Total organic carbon (TOC)) was able to remove most of the studied compounds (>90%), except for benzotriazoles and fluconazole (80% for all studied compounds). Three types of GAC were evaluated and shown to have different removal efficiencies. In particular, the GAC with the smallest particle sizes exhibited the highest removal efficiency. The results demonstrate that it is important to select an appropriate type of carbon to achieve the removal goal for specific target compounds.
Thousands of sparsely populated communities scatter in the remote areas of northern Canada. It is economically preferable to adopt the decentralized systems to treat the domestic wastewater because of the vast human inhabitant distribution and cold climatic conditions. Electro-technologies such as electrofiltration, elctrofloatation, electrocoagulation and electrokinetic separation have been applied in water and conventional wastewater treatment for decades due to the minimum requirements of chemicals as well as ease of operation. The membrane bioreactor (MBR) is gaining popularity in recent years as an alternative water/wastewater treatment technology. However, few studies have been conducted to hyphenate these two technologies. The purpose of this work is to design a novel electrically enhanced membrane bioreactor (EMBR) as an alternative decentralized wastewater treatment system with improved nutrient removal and reduced membrane fouling. Two identical submerged membranes (GE ZW-1 hollow fiber module) were used for the experiment, with one as a control. The EMBR and control MBR were operated for 4 months at room temperature (20 ± 2 °C) with synthetic feed and 2 months at 10 °C with real sewage. The following results were observed: (1) the transmembrane pressure (TMP) increased significantly more slowly in the EMBR and the interval between the cleaning cycles of the EMBR increased at least twice; (2) the dissolved chemical oxygen demand (COD) or total organic carbon (TOC) in the EMBR biomass was reduced from 30 to 51%, correspondingly, concentrations of the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), the major suspicious membrane foulants, decreased by 26-46% in the EMBR; (3) both control and EMBR removed >99% of ammonium-N and >95% of dissolved COD, in addition, ortho-P removal in the EMBR was >90%, compared with 47-61% of ortho-P removal in the MBR; and (4) the advantage of the EMBR over the conventional MBR in terms of membrane fouling retardation and phosphorus removal was further demonstrated at an operating temperature of 10 °C when fed with real sewage. The EMBR system has the potential for highly automated control and minimal maintenance, which is particularly suitable for remote northern applications.
A good water supply and wastewater management is essential for a local sustainable community development. This is emphasized in the new global goals of the UN Sustainable Development, where the sixth objective is to: "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all" (United Nations 2015). This obviously raises the question of how this can be achieved considering the very different conditions and cultures around the globe. This article presents the Greenlandic context and elucidates the current Greenland water supply system and wastewater management system from a socio-technical approach, focusing on the geographic, climatic and cultural challenges. The article identifies a diverse set of system constellations in different parts of Greenland and concludes with a discussion of health and quality of life implications.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been increasingly used in the field of wastewater treatment where the focus has been to identify environmental trade-offs of current technologies. In a novel approach, we use LCA to support early stage research and development of a biochemical system for wastewater resource recovery. The freshwater and nutrient content of wastewater are recognized as potential valuable resources that can be recovered for beneficial reuse. Both recovery and reuse are intended to address existing environmental concerns, for example, water scarcity and use of non-renewable phosphorus. However, the resource recovery may come at the cost of unintended environmental impacts. One promising recovery system, referred to as TRENS, consists of an enhanced biological phosphorus removal and recovery system (EBP2R) connected to a photobioreactor. Based on a simulation of a full-scale nutrient and water recovery system in its potential operating environment, we assess the potential environmental impacts of such a system using the EASETECH model. In the simulation, recovered water and nutrients are used in scenarios of agricultural irrigation-fertilization and aquifer recharge. In these scenarios, TRENS reduces global warming up to 15% and marine eutrophication impacts up to 9% compared to conventional treatment. This is due to the recovery and reuse of nutrient resources, primarily nitrogen. The key environmental concerns obtained through the LCA are linked to increased human toxicity impacts from the chosen end use of wastewater recovery products. The toxicity impacts are from both heavy metals release associated with land application of recovered nutrients and production of AlCl3, which is required for advanced wastewater treatment prior to aquifer recharge. Perturbation analysis of the LCA pinpointed nutrient substitution and heavy metals content of algae biofertilizer as critical areas for further research if the performance of nutrient recovery systems such as TRENS is to be better characterized. Our study provides valuable feedback to the TRENS developers and identifies the importance of system expansion to include impacts outside the immediate nutrient recovery system itself. The study also show for the first time the successful evaluation of urban-to-agricultural water systems in EASETECH.
Sludge treatment reed bed (STRB) systems have been used for dewatering and mineralisation of sludge in Europe since 1988. STRB systems provide substantial environmental, economic, and operational benefits compared to mechanical sludge dewatering solutions such as belt presses and centrifuges. They require less energy, no chemicals, reduce the sludge volume and produce bio solids with dry solid contents up to 20-40% under Danish climate conditions, depending on the sludge quality. Experience has shown that sludge treated in STRBs represents a high quality product with a low content of pathogens and hazardous organic compounds, qualities that make it suitable for recycling on agricultural land. The upfront capital cost for STRBs are often higher compared to mechanical dewatering devices. However, the operational expenses (OPEX) (including energy, chemicals, bio solid handling) are significantly lower compared to conventional mechanical dewatering devices, delivering an economic break-even of about 3-5 years. This paper provides an overview of the operation and maintenance costs and environmental benefits of a typical STRB based on the experiences gained from the operation of a large number of STRBs with yearly treatment capacities between 100 and 3,000 tonnes of dry solid up to approximately 250,000 PE in Denmark and Europe.
Plant-integrated and on-site gas emissions were quantified from a Swedish wastewater treatment plant by applying several optical analytical techniques and measurement methods. Plant-integrated CH4 emission rates, measured using mobile ground-based remote sensing methods, varied between 28.5 and 33.5 kg CH4 h-1, corresponding to an average emission factor of 5.9% as kg CH4 (kg CH4production) -1, whereas N2O emissions varied between 4.0 and 6.4 kg h-1, corresponding to an average emission factor of 1.5% as kg N2O-N (kg TN influent) -1. Plant-integrated NH3 emissions were around 0.4 kg h-1, corresponding to an average emission factor of 0.11% as kg NH3-N (kg TN removed) -1. On-site emission measurements showed that the largest proportions of CH4 (70%) and NH3 (66%) were emitted from the sludge treatment line (mainly biosolid stockpiles and the thickening and dewatering units), while most of the N2O (82%) was emitted from nitrifying trickling filters. In addition to being the most important CH4 source, stockpiles of biosolids exhibited different emissions when the sludge digesters were operated in series compared to in parallel, thus slightly increasing substrate retention time in the digesters. Lower CH4 emissions and generally higher N2O and NH3 emissions were observed when the digesters were operated in series. Loading biosolids onto trucks for off-site treatment generally resulted in higher CH4, N2O, and NH3 emissions from the biosolid stockpiles. On-site CH4 and N2O emission quantifications were approximately two-thirds of the plant-integrated emission quantifications, which may be explained by the different timeframes of the approaches and that not all emission sources were identified during on-site investigation. Off-site gas emission quantifications, using ground-based remote sensing methods, thus seem to provide more comprehensive total plant emissions rates, whereas on-site measurements provide insights into emissions from individual sources.
Fine mesh rotating belt sieves (RBS) offer a very compact solution for removal of particles from wastewater. This paper shows examples from pilot-scale testing of primary treatment, chemically enhanced primary treatment (CEPT) and secondary solids separation of biofilm solids from moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBRs). Primary treatment using a 350 microns belt showed more than 40% removal of total suspended solids (TSS) and 30% removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD) at sieve rates as high as 160 m³/m²-h. Maximum sieve rate tested was 288 m³/m²-h and maximum particle load was 80 kg TSS/m²-h. When the filter mat on the belt increased from 10 to 55 g TSS/m², the removal efficiency for TSS increased from about 35 to 60%. CEPT is a simple and effective way of increasing the removal efficiency of RBS. Adding about 1 mg/L of cationic polymer and about 2 min of flocculation time, the removal of TSS typically increased from 40-50% without polymer to 60-70% with polymer. Using coagulation and flocculation ahead of the RBS, separation of biofilm solids was successful. Removal efficiencies of 90% TSS, 83% total P and 84% total COD were achieved with a 90 microns belt at a sieve rate of 41 m³/m²-h.
Forty-two communities in rural Alaska are considered unserved or underserved with water and sewer infrastructure. Many challenges exist to provide centralized piped water and sewer infrastructure to the homes, and they are exacerbated by decreasing capital funding. Unserved communities in rural Alaska experience higher rates of disease, supporting the recommendation that sanitation infrastructure should be provided. Organizations are pursuing alternative solutions to conventional piped water and sewer in order to maximize water use and reuse for public health. This paper reviews initiatives led by the State of Alaska, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation to identify and develop potential long-term solutions appropriate and acceptable to rural communities. Future developments will likely evolve based on the lessons learned from the initiatives. Recommendations include Alaska-specific research needs, increased end-user participation in the design process, and integrated monitoring, evaluation, and information dissemination in future efforts.