Nav: Home

An overlooked source of carbon emissions

November 02, 2016

Nations that pledged to carry out the Paris climate agreement have moved forward to find practical ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including efforts to ban hydrofluorocarbons and set stricter fuel-efficiency standards. Now scientists report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology that one source of carbon dioxide, a primary greenhouse gas, has been overlooked: wastewater treatment plants. Based on their findings, they recommend actions that could curb emissions from this source.

Linda Y. Tseng, currently at Colgate University, Diego Rosso, and colleagues from the University of California, Irvine, note that when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the data available to the organization did not include CO2 emission estimates from wastewater, which may contain fossil sources of carbon such as petrochemicals. Although it does take into account greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, the IPCC model assumes that wastewater largely contains and releases carbon from non-petroleum sources -- for example, human waste. However, studies have shown that relevant amounts of petroleum products, such as synthetic chemicals from detergents, wash into wastewater and can eventually add to total greenhouse gas emissions.

The team investigated the fossil-related carbon content of municipal and industrial wastewaters at various points in the treatment process. Including this carbon from treatment plants could increase estimates of their total greenhouse gas emissions by 12 to 23 percent over previous estimates that only included methane and nitrous oxide. However, the researchers found that treating wastewater sludge could offer an opportunity to reduce the fossil carbon emissions from treatment plants. They note that on-site carbon sequestration run on renewable energy could also lower these plants' impact.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the Water-Energy Nexus Center at the University of California, Irvine and the National Science Foundation.

The paper's abstract will be available on Nov. 2 here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.6b02731

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: TwitterFacebook

American Chemical Society

Related Wastewater Articles:

Wastewater test could provide early warning of COVID-19
Researchers at Cranfield University are working on a new test to detect SARS-CoV-2 in the wastewater of communities infected with the virus.
HKU team develops new wastewater treatment process
A University of Hong Kong research team has developed a novel wastewater treatment system that can effectively remove conventional pollutants, and recover valuable resources such as phosphorus and organic materials.
Treating wastewater with ozone could convert pharmaceuticals into toxic compounds
With water scarcity intensifying, wastewater treatment and reuse are gaining popularity.
Polluted wastewater in the forecast? Try a solar umbrella
Evaporation ponds, commonly used in many industries to manage wastewater, can occupy a large footprint and often pose risks to birds and other wildlife, yet they're an economical way to deal with contaminated water.
Wastewater leak in West Texas revealed
Geophysicists at SMU say that evidence of leak occurring in a West Texas wastewater disposal well between 2007 and 2011 should raise concerns about the current potential for contaminated groundwater and damage to surrounding infrastructure.
Mapping international drug use by looking at wastewater
Wastewater-based epidemiology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with the potential for monitoring close to real-time, population-level trends in illicit drug use.
Mapping international drug use through the world's largest wastewater study
A seven-year project monitoring illicit drug use in 37 countries via wastewater samples shows that cocaine use was skyrocketing in Europe in 2017 and Australia had a serious problem with methamphetamine.
Plant research could benefit wastewater treatment, biofuels and antibiotics
Chinese and Rutgers scientists have discovered how aquatic plants cope with water pollution, a major ecological question that could help boost their use in wastewater treatment, biofuels, antibiotics and other applications.
Predicting earthquake hazards from wastewater injection
ASU-led geoscientists develop a method to forecast seismic hazards caused by the disposal of wastewater after oil and gas production.
Stronger earthquakes can be induced by wastewater injected deep underground
Earthquakes are getting deeper at the same rate as the wastewater sinks.
More Wastewater News and Wastewater Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.