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Title: Fossil organic carbon in wastewater and its fate in treatment plants
Authors: Law, Y
Jacobsen, GE
Smith, AM
Yuan, Z
Lant, P
Keywords: Greenhouse gases
Carbon dioxide
Carbon footprint
Waste water
Issue Date: 15-Sep-2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Law, Y., Jacobsen, G. E., Smith, A. M., Yuan, Z., & Lant, P. (2013). Fossil organic carbon in wastewater and its fate in treatment plants. Water Research, 47(14), 5270-5281. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2013.06.002
Abstract: This study reports the presence of fossil organic carbon in wastewater and its fate in wastewater treatment plants. The findings pinpoint the inaccuracy of current greenhouse gas accounting guidelines which defines all organic carbon in wastewater to be of biogenic origin. Stable and radiocarbon isotopes (13C and 14C) were measured throughout the process train in four municipal wastewater treatment plants equipped with secondary activated sludge treatment. Isotopic mass balance analyses indicate that 4–14% of influent total organic carbon (TOC) is of fossil origin with concentrations between 6 and 35 mg/L; 88–98% of this is removed from the wastewater. The TOC mass balance analysis suggests that 39–65% of the fossil organic carbon from the influent is incorporated into the activated sludge through adsorption or from cell assimilation while 29–50% is likely transformed to carbon dioxide (CO2) during secondary treatment. The fossil organic carbon fraction in the sludge undergoes further biodegradation during anaerobic digestion with a 12% decrease in mass. 1.4–6.3% of the influent TOC consists of both biogenic and fossil carbon is estimated to be emitted as fossil CO2 from activated sludge treatment alone. The results suggest that current greenhouse gas accounting guidelines, which assume that all CO2 emission from wastewater is biogenic may lead to underestimation of emissions. © 2013, Elsevier Ltd.
Gov't Doc #: 6140
ISSN: 0043-1354
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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