Wastewater treatment (WWT) may be an important source of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas with significant global warming potential. Sources of CH4 emissions from WWT facilities can be found in the water and in the sludge process lines. Among the methodologies for estimating CH4 emissions inventories from WWT, the more adopted are the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recommends default emission factors (Tier 1) depending on WWT systems. Recent published results show that well managed treatment facilities may emit CH4, due to dissolved CH4 in the influent wastewater; in addition, biological nutrient removal also will produce this gas in the anaerobic (or anoxic) steps. However, none of these elements is considered in the current IPCC guidelines. The aim of this work is to propose modified (and new) methane correction factors (MCF) regarding the current Tier 1 IPCC guidelines for CH4 emissions from aerobic treatment systems, with and without anaerobic sludge digesters, focusing on intertropical countries. The modifications are supported on in situ assessment of fugitive CH4 emissions in two facilities in Mexico and on relevant literature data. In the case of well-managed centralized aerobic treatment plant, a MCF of 0.06 (instead of the current 0.0) is proposed, considering that the assumption of a CH4-neutral treatment facility, as established in the IPCC methodology, is not supported. Similarly, a MCF of 0.08 is proposed for biological nutrient removal processes, being a new entry in the guidelines. Finally, a one-step straightforward calculation is proposed for centralized aerobic treatment plants with anaerobic digesters that avoids confusion when selecting the appropriate default MCF based on the Tier 1 IPCC guidelines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Waste Management and Disposal