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Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 8; doi:10.3390/su9010008

Application of Emergy Analysis to the Sustainability Evaluation of Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants

1
Key Laboratory of Ocean Energy Utilization and Energy Conservation of Ministry of Education, School of Energy and Power Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, Linggong Road 2, Dalian 116024, Liaoning, China
2
School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dalian University of Technology, Linggong Road 2, Dalian 116024, Liaoning, China
3
School of Environmental Science and Technology, Dalian University of Technology, Linggong Road 2, Dalian 116024, Liaoning, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 17 September 2016 / Revised: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 December 2016 / Published: 24 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3347 KB, uploaded 24 December 2016]   |  

Abstract

Municipal wastewater treatment plants consume much energy and manpower, are expensive to run, and generate sludge and treated wastewater whilst removing pollutants through specific treatment regimes. The sustainable development of the wastewater treatment industry is therefore challenging, and a comprehensive evaluation method is needed for assessing the sustainability of different wastewater treatment processes, for identifying the improvement potential of treatment plants, and for directing policymakers, management measures and development strategies. This study established improved evaluation indicators based on Emergy Analysis that place total wastewater, resources, energy, economic input and emission of pollutants on the same scale compared to the traditional indicators. The sustainability of four wastewater treatment plants and their associated Anaerobic-Anoxic-Oxic (A2O), Constant Waterlevel Sequencing Batch Reactor (CWSBR), Cyclic Activated Sludge Technology (CAST) and Biological Aerated Filter (BAF) treatment processes were assessed in a city in northeast China. Results show that the CWSBR process was the most sustainable wastewater treatment process according to its largest calculated value of Improved Emergy Sustainable Index (2.53 × 100), followed by BAF (1.60 × 100), A2O (9.78 × 10−1) and CAST (5.77 × 10−1). Emergy Analysis provided improved indicators that are suitable for comparing different wastewater treatment processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: emergy analysis; wastewater treatment process; improvement indicator; sustainability evaluation emergy analysis; wastewater treatment process; improvement indicator; sustainability evaluation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Shao, S.; Mu, H.; Yang, F.; Zhang, Y.; Li, J. Application of Emergy Analysis to the Sustainability Evaluation of Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants. Sustainability 2017, 9, 8.

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