ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY PERFORMANCE OF A MEMBRANE-BASED TECHNOLOGY FOR LIVESTOCK WASTEWATER TREATMENT WITH NUTRIENT RECOVERY

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Abstract

The gas-permeable membrane (GPM) technology is one of the most novel techniques capable of minimizing ammonia (NH3) emissions associated to wastewaters, while recovering nitrogen as nutrient. This study conducted for the first time a life cycle assessment of this technology (treatment scenario), to compare the environmental trade-offs with the conventional manure management (conventional scenario), and determine which strategy performs better. The environmental impact results per m3 of manure, estimated using the ReCiPe method V 1.1, indicated that the treatment scenario reduces global warming (GW) by 14% and marine eutrophication (ME) by 32% with respect to the conventional scenario, whilst it increases particulate matter formation (PMF) and terrestrial acidification (TA) by 16% and 17%, respectively, due to some NH3 volatilization. Other impact categories considered were ozone formation (affecting human health (HOF) and ecosystems (EOF)), where the treatment scenario was able to reduce this impact by 48% and 50%, respectively. For freshwater eutrophication (FE), the net value was similar for both scenarios. A sensitivity analysis looking at optimum membrane design parameters (optimized treatment scenario) resulted in further reductions between 26% and 86% for GW, ME, PMF and TA with respect to the conventional scenario, although one potential drawback is the application of higher amount of phosphorous with the organic fertilizer, which resulted in higher FE impacts. Overall, the GPM system-based treatment is more environmentally sustainable compared to the conventional scenario thus making this an attractive option for environmental management systems, especially in areas with low water quality or high nutrient imbalance.

Keywords: Life cycle assessment, manure treatment, ammonia reduction, nutrient imbalance, agricultural effluents.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jan 2022