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Evaluation of environmental burdens associated with sewage treatment processes using life cycle assessment techniques

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Life cycle assessments of a range of wastewater treatment processes have been undertaken. At lower consent standards rotating biological contactors and biological filters exhibit lower environmental burdens for the required functionality than other process options. However, at tighter consents this distinction becomes less clear. Attempts to reduce environmental burdens should focus on operational energy requirements (which dominate burden profiles and, where appropriate, on synthetic materials used for bio-mass growth). However, differences between dry and operational weight, and the consequent size of necessary foundation structures are likely to limit opportunities for reducing overall burden profiles through material substitution. Comparison of processes across population equivalents suggests economies of scale may favour adopting larger scale plant, although there are additional factors yet to be included in this analysis. Furthermore, adopting different waste disposal routes during the demolition phase is unlikely to have a distinct impact on burden profiles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-250
JournalEnvironmental Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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