Comparative analysis of sanitation systems for resource recovery: Influence of configurations and single technology components
- Journal Article
Resource recovery and emissions from sanitation systems are critical sustainability indicators for strategic urban sanitation planning. In this context, sanitation systems are the most often structured using technology-driven templates rather than performance-based sustainability indicators. In this work, we answer two questions: Firstly, can we estimate generic resource recovery and loss potentials and their uncertainties for a diverse and large set of sanitation systems? And secondly, can we identify technological aspects of sanitation systems that indicate a better overall resource recovery performance? The aim is to obtain information that can be used as an input into any strategic planning process and to help shape technology development and system design for resource recovery in the future. Starting from 41 technologies, which include novel and conventional options, we build 101,548 valid sanitation system configurations. For each system configuration we quantify phosphorus, nitrogen, total solids, and water flows and use that to calculate recovery potentials and losses to the environment, i.e. the soil, air, or surface water. The four substances cover different properties and serve as a proxy for nutrient, organics, energy, and water resources. For modelling the flows ex-ante, we use a novel approach to consider a large range of international literature and expert data considering uncertainties. Thus all results are generic and can therefore be used as input into any strategic planning process or to help guide future technology development. A detailed analysis of the results allows us to identify factors that influence recovery and losses. These factors include the type of source, the length of systems, and the level of containment in storage and treatment. The factors influencing recovery are related to interactions of different technologies in a system which shows the relevance of a modelling approach that allows to look at all possible system configurations systematically. Based on our analysis, we developed five recommendations for the optimization of resource recovery: (i) prioritize short systems that close the loop at the lowest possible level; (ii) separate waste streams as much as possible, because this allows for higher recovery potentials; (iii) use storage and treatment technologies that contain the products as much as possible, avoid leaching technologies (e.g. single pits) and technologies with high risk of volatilization (e.g. drying beds); (iv) design sinks to optimise recovery and avoid disposal sinks; and (v) combine various reuse options for different side streams (e.g. urine diversion systems that combine reuse of urine and production of biofuel from faeces). © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. Show more
Journal / seriesWater Research
Pages / Article No.
SubjectSubstance flow modelling; Resource recovery; Sustainable sanitation; Technology innovation; Structured decision making; Multi-criteria decision analysis
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