Sustainability assessment of tertiary wastewater treatment technologies: a multi-criteria analysis

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The multi-criteria analysis gives the opportunity to researchers, designers and decision-makers to examine decision options in a multi-dimensional fashion. On this basis, four tertiary wastewater treatment (WWT) technologies were assessed regarding their sustainability performance in producing recycled wastewater, considering a ‘triple bottom line’ approach (i.e. economic, environmental, and social). These are powdered activated carbon adsorption coupled with ultrafiltration membrane separation (PAC-UF), reverse osmosis, ozone/ultraviolet-light oxidation and heterogeneous photo-catalysis coupled with low-pressure membrane separation (photocatalytic membrane reactor, PMR). The participatory method called simple multi-attribute rating technique exploiting ranks was employed for assigning weights to selected sustainability indicators. This sustainability assessment approach resulted in the development of a composite index as a final metric, for each WWT technology evaluated. The PAC-UF technology appears to be the most appropriate technology, attaining the highest composite value regarding the sustainability performance. A scenario analysis confirmed the results of the original scenario in five out of seven cases. In parallel, the PMR was highlighted as the technology with the least variability in its performance. Nevertheless, additional actions and approaches are proposed to strengthen the objectivity of the final results.

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