Special Issue "Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andrea G. Capodaglio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Fellow IWA, BCEE, University of Pavia, Italy
Interests: sustainable development, energy and materials recovery, innovative water and wastewater treatment, groundwater contamination, bioelectrochemical systems
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Gustaf Olsson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Lund University, Lund, Sweden (Emeritus)
Interests: sustainability; water-energy nexus; efficient wastewater treatment; instrumentation; control & automation; renewable energy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agenda 2030 (UN, 2015) on Sustainable Development includes 17 goals as part of the new sustainable development agenda, many of which are related to water availability and quality (Goals 6 and 14) energy (goal 7), resilience and sustainability of cities (Goal 11) and emissions reduction (Goal 13). These goals ought to be achieved with integrated actions, able to accomplish multiple objectives while taking into account the mutual relationships among the sectors addressed. In particular, the nexus between water and energy is becoming ever more obvious in the attempt to develop innovative solutions to achieve technically feasible and socially desirable sustainable management of urban areas’ growth and resilience. Without the two essential goals of clean water and clean energy it will hardly be possible to reach the other 15 goals. Urban areas are complex and interconnected environments, in exponential expansion of popoulations number and density, where innovative paradigms and approaches for water, wastes, energy and resources in general should and must be proposed, tested and developed. Cities, as hubs of multilevel and multidisciplinary complexity, are the ideal platform for technological evolution in a sustainable direction.

Contributions are invited for manuscripts describing new innovation models, frameworks and findings that may help address environmentally-related sustainability challenges within cities, including:

  • Research on sustainable technological challenges and assessments in the water, wastewater, solid wastes areas, including the reduction of ecological and carbon footprints, recycling and reuse of materials and energy from a comprehensive perspective according to Circular Economy principles). The Special Issue will incorporate research articles that examine current technologies and policies qualitatively and quantitatively (e.g., life-cycle-assessment, material and energy modeling, etc.).
  • Sustainable urban water management, with focus on reuse and recycle aspects and economics and governance aspects. Of interest are innovative approaches and tools available for supporting and delivering sustainable water/wastes management that is inclusive, resilient and adaptive.
  • Conceptual and theoretical frameworks illustrating how technical innovation can contribute to enhance the development of sustainable solutions addressing development challenges, including expected climate changes, in cities and megacities.
  • Comparative, analytical and empirical studies on projects and initiatives responding to sustainable environmental-related challenges with paradigm innovation approaches.

Prof. Dr. Andrea G. Capodaglio
Prof. Dr. Gustaf Olsson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water resources
  • wastewater treatment technologies
  • energy and materials recovery
  • renewable energy
  • solar PV
  • wind power
  • water reuse
  • water supply

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Holistic Approach to Phosphorus Recovery from Urban Wastewater: Enhanced Biological Removal Combined with Precipitation
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020575 - 12 Jan 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1138
Abstract
Combined phosphorus (P) removal and recovery from wastewater is a sensible and sustainable choice in view of potential future P-resource scarcity, due to dwindling primary global reserves. P-recovery from wastewater, notwithstanding the relatively small fraction of total global amounts involved (less than 1/5 [...] Read more.
Combined phosphorus (P) removal and recovery from wastewater is a sensible and sustainable choice in view of potential future P-resource scarcity, due to dwindling primary global reserves. P-recovery from wastewater, notwithstanding the relatively small fraction of total global amounts involved (less than 1/5 of total global use ends up in wastewater) could extend the lifespan of available reserves and improve wastewater cycle sustainability. The recovery of the resource, rather than its mere removal as ferric or aluminum salt, will still allow to achieve protection of receiving waters quality, while saving on P-sludge disposal costs. To demonstrate the possibility of such a recovery, a strategy combining enhanced biological phosphorus removal and mineral P-precipitation was studied, by considering possible process modifications of a large treatment facility. Process simulation, a pilot study, and precipitation tests were conducted. The results demonstrated that it would be possible to convert this facility from chemical -precipitation to its biological removal followed by mineral precipitation, with minimal structural intervention. Considerable P-recovery could be obtained, either in form of struvite or, more sustainably, as calcium phosphate, a mineral that also has possible fertilizing applications. The latter would present a cost about one order of magnitude lower than the former. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Energy Issues in Sustainable Urban Wastewater Management: Use, Demand Reduction and Recovery in the Urban Water Cycle
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 266; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010266 - 29 Dec 2019
Cited by 59 | Viewed by 2617
Abstract
Urban water systems and, in particular, wastewater treatment facilities are among the major energy consumers at municipal level worldwide. Estimates indicate that on average these facilities alone may require about 1% to 3% of the total electric energy output of a country, representing [...] Read more.
Urban water systems and, in particular, wastewater treatment facilities are among the major energy consumers at municipal level worldwide. Estimates indicate that on average these facilities alone may require about 1% to 3% of the total electric energy output of a country, representing a significant fraction of municipal energy bills. Specific power consumption of state-of-the-art facilities should range between 20 and 45 kWh per population-equivalent served, per year, even though older plants may have even higher demands. This figure does not include wastewater conveyance (pumping) and residues post-processing. On the other hand, wastewater and its byproducts contain energy in different forms: chemical, thermal and potential. Until very recently, the only form of energy recovery from most facilities consisted of anaerobic post-digestion of process residuals (waste sludge), by which chemical energy methane is obtained as biogas, in amounts generally sufficient to cover about half of plant requirements. Implementation of new technologies may allow more efficient strategies of energy savings and recovery from sewage treatment. Besides wastewater valorization by exploitation of its chemical and thermal energy contents, closure of the wastewater cycle by recovery of the energy content of process residuals could allow significant additional energy recovery and increased greenhouse emissions abatement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Energy Recovery from Wastewater: A Study on Heating and Cooling of a Multipurpose Building with Sewage-Reclaimed Heat Energy
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010116 - 22 Dec 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1597
Abstract
To achieve technically-feasible and socially-desirable sustainable management of urban areas, new paradigms have been developed to enhance the sustainability of water and its resources in modern cities. Wastewater is no longer seen as a wasted resource, but rather, as a mining ground from [...] Read more.
To achieve technically-feasible and socially-desirable sustainable management of urban areas, new paradigms have been developed to enhance the sustainability of water and its resources in modern cities. Wastewater is no longer seen as a wasted resource, but rather, as a mining ground from which to obtain valuable chemicals and energy; for example, heat energy, which is often neglected, can be recovered from wastewater for different purposes. In this work, we analyze the design and application of energy recovery from wastewater for heating and cooling a building in Brno (Czech Republic) by means of heat exchangers and pumps. The temperature and the flow rate of the wastewater flowing in a sewer located in the proximity of the building were monitored for a one-year period, and the energy requirement for the building was calculated as 957 MWh per year. Two options were evaluated: heating and cooling using a conventional system (connected to the local grid), and heat recovery from wastewater using heat exchangers and coupled heat pumps. The analysis of the scenarios suggested that the solution based on heat recovery from wastewater was more feasible, showing a 59% decrease in energy consumption compared to the conventional solution (respectively, 259,151 kWh and 620,475 kWh per year). The impact of heat recovery from wastewater on the kinetics of the wastewater resource recovery facility was evaluated, showing a negligible impact in both summer (increase of 0.045 °C) and winter conditions (decrease of 0.056 °C). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
The Role of Constructed Wetlands as Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Urban Water Management
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6981; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246981 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 50 | Viewed by 3978
Abstract
Nowadays, it is better understood that the benefits of green infrastructure include a series of ecosystem services, such as cooling, water storage and management, recreation and landscaping, among others. Green technologies are still developing to provide sustainable solutions to the problems that modern [...] Read more.
Nowadays, it is better understood that the benefits of green infrastructure include a series of ecosystem services, such as cooling, water storage and management, recreation and landscaping, among others. Green technologies are still developing to provide sustainable solutions to the problems that modern cities and peri-urban areas face at an ever-increasing rate and intensity. Constructed wetlands technology is an established green multi-purpose option for water management and wastewater treatment, with numerous effectively proven applications around the world and multiple environmental and economic advantages. These systems can function as water treatment plants, habitat creation sites, urban wildlife refuges, recreational or educational facilities, landscape engineering and ecological art areas. The aim of this article is to highlight the synergies between this green technology and urban areas in order to reconnect cities with nature, to promote circularity in the urban context and to apply innovative wetland designs as landscape infrastructure and water treatment solutions. This approach could be a step further in the effort to mitigate the current degradation process of the urban landscape. Following the concept of green infrastructure, the article presents and suggests ways to integrate wetland technology in the urban environment, namely: (i) stormwater and urban runoff management (storage and treatment of water during storm events) to provide protection from flood incidents, especially considering climate change, (ii) innovative low-impact infrastructure and design solutions for urban wastewater treatment, and (iii) wetland technology for habitat creation and ecosystem services provision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Self-Powered Bioelectrochemical Nutrient Recovery for Fertilizer Generation from Human Urine
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5490; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195490 - 03 Oct 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1802
Abstract
Nutrient recovery from source-separated human urine has been identified by many as a viable avenue towards the circular economy of nutrients. Moreover, untreated (and partially treated) urine is the main anthropogenic route of environmental discharge of nutrients, most concerning for nitrogen, whose release [...] Read more.
Nutrient recovery from source-separated human urine has been identified by many as a viable avenue towards the circular economy of nutrients. Moreover, untreated (and partially treated) urine is the main anthropogenic route of environmental discharge of nutrients, most concerning for nitrogen, whose release has exceeded the planet’s own self-healing capacity. Urine contains all key macronutrients (N, P, and K) and micronutrients (S, Ca, Mg, and trace metals) needed for plant growth and is, therefore, an excellent fertilizer. However, direct reuse is not recommended in modern society due to the presence of active organic molecules and heavy metals in urine. Many systems have been proposed and tested for nutrient recovery from urine, but none so far has reached technological maturity due to usually high power or chemical requirements or the need for advanced process controls. This work is the proof of concept for the world’s first nutrient recovery system that powers itself and does not require any chemicals or process controls. This is a variation of the previously proposed microbial electrochemical Ugold process, where a novel air cathode catalyst active in urine conditions (pH 9, high ammonia) enables in situ generation of electricity in a microbial fuel cell setup, and the simultaneous harvesting of such electricity for the electrodialytic concentration of ionic nutrients into a product stream, which is free of heavy metals. The system was able to sustain electrical current densities around 3 A m–2 for over two months while simultaneously upconcentrating N and K by a factor of 1.5–1.7. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Optimum Turf Grass Irrigation Requirements and Corresponding Water- Energy-CO2 Nexus across Harris County, Texas
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1440; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051440 - 08 Mar 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1941
Abstract
Harris County is one of the most populated counties in the United States. About 30% of domestic water use in the U.S. is for outdoor activities, especially landscape irrigation and gardening. Optimum landscape and garden irrigation contributes to substantial water and energy savings [...] Read more.
Harris County is one of the most populated counties in the United States. About 30% of domestic water use in the U.S. is for outdoor activities, especially landscape irrigation and gardening. Optimum landscape and garden irrigation contributes to substantial water and energy savings and a substantial reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Thus, the objectives of this work are to (i) calculate site-specific turf grass irrigation water requirements across Harris County and (ii) calculate CO2 emission reductions and water and energy savings across the county if optimum turf grass irrigation is adopted. The Irrigation Management System was used with site-specific soil hydrological data, turf crop water uptake parameters (root distribution and crop coefficient), and long-term daily rainfall and reference evapotranspiration to calculate irrigation water demand across Harris County. The Irrigation Management System outputs include irrigation requirements, runoff, and drainage below the root system. Savings in turf irrigation requirements and energy and their corresponding reduction in CO2 emission were calculated. Irrigation water requirements decreased moving across the county from its north-west to its south-east corners. However, the opposite happened for the runoff and excess drainage below the rootzone. The main reason for this variability is the combined effect of rainfall, reference evapotranspiration, and soil types. Based on the result, if the average annual irrigation water use across the county is 25 mm higher than the optimum level, this will result in 10.45 million m3 of water losses (equivalent water use for 30,561 single families), 4413 MWh excess energy use, and the emission of 2599 metric tons of CO2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Sustainable Reuse of Groundwater Treatment Iron Sludge for Organic Matter Removal from River Neris Water
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 639; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030639 - 26 Jan 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1378
Abstract
The most important advances in sustainability in the water industry are focused on the reuse of water treatment sludge. The Antaviliai Water Supply Plant, which is located in Lithuania, treats groundwater by removing iron and manganese from it. This technology does not produce [...] Read more.
The most important advances in sustainability in the water industry are focused on the reuse of water treatment sludge. The Antaviliai Water Supply Plant, which is located in Lithuania, treats groundwater by removing iron and manganese from it. This technology does not produce water waste, as the iron sludge is used for recycling. In this study, iron sludge received from groundwater treatment is used to remove natural organic matter from river Neris water, which can be used as drinking water. Twelve doses (from 1 to 6 g/L and from 0.1 g/L to 0.9 g/L) of iron sludge powder, with acid and without it, were used. The most effective removal of organic compounds (55.51%) and reduction in water colour (53.12%) were observed when 0.3 g of iron sludge powder and 8 ml of 0.95% H2SO4 solution were added to the tested water. It was found that the use of a conventional coagulant (Al2(SO4)3*17H2O), with and without iron sludge powder, decreased the concentration of organic compounds and water colour from 2.8 to 28.2% compared with the use of a pure coagulant (Al2(SO4)3*17H2O) alone.. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Water Supply and Energy in Residential Buildings: Potential Savings and Financial Profitability
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010295 - 08 Jan 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2842
Abstract
This article examines the suitability of water supply installations in residential buildings for the pressure conditions of the main water network, and evaluates the energy saving possibilities associated with pumping water into homes. It assesses the situation and the options for renovation in [...] Read more.
This article examines the suitability of water supply installations in residential buildings for the pressure conditions of the main water network, and evaluates the energy saving possibilities associated with pumping water into homes. It assesses the situation and the options for renovation in a sample of 151 buildings in the city of Zaragoza (Spain), estimating the savings in electric power and the possible financial returns that could be obtained. The results show that in half the buildings, the installations are inadequate and lead to inefficient energy use, which could be avoided by renovation. However, they also show that in many cases, this type of retrofitting would not be profitable for the building owners, meaning that technically viable solutions may not necessarily be financially viable. To mitigate or avoid the energy inefficiency in question, the public sector could step in by informing and financing support for building owners and regulating in the areas of town planning and construction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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Article
Exploring City Development Modes under the Dual Control of Water Resources and Energy-Related CO2 Emissions: The Case of Beijing, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3155; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093155 - 04 Sep 2018
Viewed by 1284
Abstract
Water and energy are basic resources for urban development. It is of extreme importance to balance economic development, water and energy security, and environmental sustainability at the city level. Although many studies have focused on energy-related CO2 emissions or water resources, individually, [...] Read more.
Water and energy are basic resources for urban development. It is of extreme importance to balance economic development, water and energy security, and environmental sustainability at the city level. Although many studies have focused on energy-related CO2 emissions or water resources, individually, in relation to socioeconomic development, few studies have considered water and energy-related CO2 emissions as synchronous limiting factors. Here, taking Beijing as an example, a partial least squares STIRPAT model—a method that combines partial least squares with the STIRPAT (stochastic impacts by regression on population, affluence, and technology) model—was used to determine the main driving factors of water use and energy-related CO2 emissions at the regional scale from 1996 to 2016. The empirical results showed that the population, per capita gross domestic product (GDP), urbanization level, technology level, and service level, are all important factors that influence the total water use and energy-related CO2 emissions. Additionally, eight scenarios were established to explore suitable development modes for future years. Consequently, a medium growth rate in socioeconomic status and population, and a high growth rate in the technology and service level, were found to be the most appropriate development modes. This scenario would result in a total water use of 4432.13 million m3 and energy-related CO2 emissions of 173.64 million tons in 2030. The results provide a new perspective for decision makers to explore suitable measures for simultaneously conserving water resources and reducing energy-related CO2 emissions in the context of urban development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Energy Sustainable Urban Development)
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