Performance analysis and life cycle greenhouse gas emission assessment of an integrated gravitational-flow wastewater treatment system for rural areas Academic Article uri icon

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  • Due to the lack of appropriate wastewater treatment facility in rural areas, the discharging of wastewater without sufficient treatment results in many environmental issues and negative impact on the local economy. In this study, a novel integrated gravitational-flow wastewater treatment system (IGWTS) for treating domestic wastewater in rural areas was developed and evaluated. As the core module of IGWTS, the multi-soil-layering (MSL) system showed good performances for removing organic matters and nutrients in lab-scale experiments. Aeration was found to be the dominant positive factor for contaminant removal in factorial analysis, while bottom submersion had the most negative effect. Based on the critical operational factors obtained from lab-scale tests, the full-scale IGWTS consisting of multifunctional anaerobic tank (MFAT), MSL, and subsurface flow constructed wetland (SFCW) was designed, constructed, and operated successfully in the field application. The final effluent concentrations of COD, BOD5, TP, NH3-N, and TN reached 22.0, 8.0, 0.3, 4.0, and 11.0 mg/L, with removal rates of 92, 93, 92, 86, and 76%, respectively. The feasibility of IGWTS was also quantitatively evaluated from the perspectives of resource consumption, economic costs, water environment impact, and life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. IGWTS has been proved to be a sound approach to mitigate GHG emissions compared with centralized wastewater treatment plant. It can also be featured as an eco-friendly technology to improve rural water environment, and an economic scenario with low construction and operation costs. Graphical abstract.


  • Song, Pei
  • Huang, Gordon
  • An, Chunjiang
  • Zhang, Peng
  • Chen, Xiujuan
  • Ren, Shan

publication date

  • September 2019