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Journal of Chemistry
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3796352, 12 pages
Review Article

Greenhouse Gases Emissions from Wastewater Treatment Plants: Minimization, Treatment, and Prevention

1Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Avenida Padre Hurtado 750, 2520000 Viña del Mar, Chile
2Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Santiago de Compostela, Rua Lope Gómez de Marzoa s/n, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
3Department of Environment, Faculty of Engineering, University of Playa Ancha, Avenida Leopoldo Carvallo 270, 2340000 Valparaíso, Chile
4School of Biochemical Engineering, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Avenida Brasil 2085, 2340000 Valparaíso, Chile

Received 28 December 2015; Revised 29 March 2016; Accepted 5 April 2016

Academic Editor: Claudio Di Iaconi

Copyright © 2016 J. L. Campos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The operation of wastewater treatment plants results in direct emissions, from the biological processes, of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as indirect emissions resulting from energy generation. In this study, three possible ways to reduce these emissions are discussed and analyzed: minimization through the change of operational conditions, treatment of the gaseous streams, and prevention by applying new configurations and processes to remove both organic matter and pollutants. In current WWTPs, to modify the operational conditions of existing units reveals itself as possibly the most economical way to decrease N2O and CO2 emissions without deterioration of effluent quality. Nowadays the treatment of the gaseous streams containing the GHG seems to be a not suitable option due to the high capital costs of systems involved to capture and clean them. The change of WWTP configuration by using microalgae or partial nitritation-Anammox processes to remove ammonia from wastewater, instead of conventional nitrification-denitrification processes, can significantly reduce the GHG emissions and the energy consumed. However, the area required in the case of microalgae systems and the current lack of information about stability of partial nitritation-Anammox processes operating in the main stream of the WWTP are factors to be considered.