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Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 58 No 1 pp 253–258 © IWA Publishing 2008 doi:10.2166/wst.2008.666

Solar-powered aeration and disinfection, anaerobic co-digestion, biological CO2 scrubbing and biofuel production: the energy and carbon management opportunities of waste stabilisation ponds

A. N. Shilton, N. Powell, D. D. Mara and R. Craggs

Centre for Environmental Technology and Engineering, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand a.n.shilton@massey.ac.nz
School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK d.d.mara@leeds.ac.uk
National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 11115, Hamilton, New Zealand r.craggs@niwa.co.nz


ABSTRACT

Waste stabilisation pond (WSP) technology offers some important advantages and interesting possibilities when viewed in the light of sustainable energy and carbon management. Pond systems stand out as having significant advantages due to simple construction; low (or zero) operating energy requirements; and the potential for bio-energy generation. Conventional WSP requires little or no electrical energy for aerobic treatment as a result of algal photosynthesis. Sunlight enables WSP to disinfect wastewaters very effectively without the need for any chemicals or electricity consumption and their associated CO2 emissions. The energy and carbon emission savings gained over electromechanical treatment systems are immense. Furthermore, because algal photosynthesis consumes CO2, WSP can be utilised as CO2 scrubbers. The environmental and financial benefits of pond technology broaden further when considering the low-cost, energy production opportunities of anaerobic ponds and the potential of algae as a biofuel. As we assess future best practice in wastewater treatment technology, perhaps one of the greatest needs is an improved consideration of the carbon footprint and the implications of future increases in the cost of electricity and the value of biogas.

Keywords: aeration; anaerobic digestion; carbon management; disinfection; energy; high rate algal ponds; waste stabilisation ponds


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