Advances in technological control of greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater in the context of circular economy

Rekich R. Pahunang, Antonio Buonerba, Vincenzo Senatore, Giuseppina Oliva, Mariam Ouda, Tiziano Zarra, Raul Muñoz, Sebastià Puig, Florencio C. Ballesteros, Chi Wang Li, Shadi W. Hasan, Vincenzo Belgiorno, Vincenzo Naddeo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This review paper aims to identify the main sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and highlights the technologies developed for CO2 capture in this milieu. CO2 is emitted in all the operational units of conventional WWTPs and even after the disposal of treated effluents and sludges. CO2 emissions from wastewater can be captured or mitigated by several technologies such as the production of biochar from sludge, the application of constructed wetlands (CWs), the treatment of wastewater in microbial electrochemical processes (microbial electrosynthesis, MES; microbial electrolytic carbon capture, MECC; in microbial carbon capture, MCC), and via microalgal cultivation. Sludge-to-biochar and CW systems showed a high cost-effectiveness in the capture of CO2, while MES, MECC, MCC technologies, and microalgal cultivation offered efficient capture of CO2 with associate production of value-added by-products. At the state-of-the-art, these technologies, utilized for carbon capture and utilization from wastewater, require more research for further configuration, development and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, the integration of these technologies has a potential internal rate of return (IRR) that could equate the operation or provide additional revenue to wastewater management. In the context of circular economy, these carbon capture technologies will pave the way for new sustainable concepts of WWTPs, as an essential element for the mitigation of climate change fostering the transition to a decarbonised economy.

Original languageBritish English
Article number148479
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2021


  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon storage
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Wastewater


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