Environmental sustainability of the solar photo-Fenton process for wastewater treatment and pharmaceuticals mineralization at semi-industrial scale

Spyros Foteinis, Jose Maria Monteagudo, Antonio Duran, Efthalia Chatzisymeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The environmental sustainability of a semi-industrial solar photo-Fenton reactor, treating real effluents emanating from a pharmaceutical laboratory, is assessed herein. The life cycle assessment/analysis (LCA) methodology was employed and real life cycle inventory (LCI) data was collected from a ferrioxalate-assisted homogeneous solar photo-Fenton wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), at Ciudad Real, Spain. Electricity was provided by photovoltaic (PV) panels in tandem with a battery bank, making the plant autonomous from the local grid. The effective treatment of 1 m3 of secondary-treated pharmaceutical wastewater, containing antipyrine, was used as a functional unit. The main environmental hotspot was identified to be the chemical reagents used to enhance treatment efficiency, mainly hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and to a smaller degree oxalic acid. On the other hand, land use, PV panels, battery units, compound parabolic collectors (CPC), tanks, pipes and pumps, as materials, had a low contribution, ranging from as little as 0.06% up to about 2% on the total CO2eq emissions. Overall, the solar photo-Fenton process was found to be a sustainable technology for treating wastewater containing micropollutants at semi-industrial level, since the total environmental footprint was found to be 2.71 kgCO2 m− 3 or 272 mPt m− 3, using IPCC 2013 and ReCiPe impact assessment methods, respectively. A sensitivity analysis revealed that if the excess of solar power is fed back into the grid then the total environmental footprint is reduced. Depending on the amount of solar power fed back into the grid the process could have a near zero total environmental footprint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-612
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume612
Early online date1 Sept 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018

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