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Monday, 04 April 2022 14:27

Multipoint characterization of the emission of odour, volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gases from a full-scale membrane-based municipal WWTP


Different environmental and social concerns can arise due to the generation of gaseous emissions during the treatment of urban wastewater. However, there is not an extensive knowledge about which are the main potential odour and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources in a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and their variability. In this study, a multipoint characterization of the gaseous emissions generated in a full-scale municipal WWTP located in Barcelona was conducted, aiming at identifying the main odour and GHG emission sources. The WWTP under study treats an average inlet flow of 33,000 m3 d−1 using a Ludzack-Ettinger system with Membrane BioReactor (MBR) technology, and it has installed a gas caption and treatment system consisting of a biotrickling filter followed by a conventional biofilter to treat part of the off-gases produced during the wastewater treatment. For this work, gaseous emissions characterization campaigns were conducted to assess the proper performance of the gas treatment unit and to estimate the emission factors referred to odorants and GHGs for the different emission sources and to assess the proper performance of the gas treatment system. Besides, a chemical characterization of the different volatile organic compounds (VOC) present in the gaseous emissions was performed through TD-GC/MS. The main potential odour sources were the reception tank, the barscreens building and the primary settler, where odour concentrations were in the range of 1300 and 2600 ou·m−3. Moreover, GHG emissions were found during the primary treatment and in the MBR units, ranging from 2.21 to 68,217.13 mg CO2eq·m−3. Different VOCs such as aromatic hydrocarbons, alkanes and ketones were found in the gaseous emissions with a high variability among all the emission sources. The results obtained are valuable indicators that can be used to develop odour and GHG mitigation strategies in WWTPs and to estimate the environmental impact of these facilities.