Plant-integrated measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from a municipal wastewater treatment plant

Hiroko Yoshida, Jacob Mønster, Charlotte Scheutz

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) contribute to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Due to its spatial and temporal variation in emissions, whole plant characterization of GHG emissions from WWTPs face a number of obstacles. In this study, a tracer dispersion method was applied to quantify plant-integrated, real-time emissions of methane and nitrous oxides. Two mobile cavity ring-down spectroscopy sampling devices were used to record downwind gas concentrations emitted from a municipal WWTP situated in Copenhagen, Denmark. This plant is equipped to remove biological nitrogen and employs anaerobic digestion for sludge stabilization. Over the course of nine measurement campaigns, a wide range of emissions were detected: methane from 4.99kgh-1 up to 92.3kgh-1 and nitrous oxide from below the detection limit (0.37kgh-1) up to 10.5kgh-1. High emissions were observed during periods experiencing operational problems, such as during foaming events in anaerobic digesters and during sub-optimal operation of biological nitrogen removal in the secondary treatment of wastewater. Methane emissions detected during measurement campaigns corresponded to 2.07-32.7% of the methane generated in the plant. As high as 4.27% of nitrogen entering the WWTP was emitted as nitrous oxide under the sub-optimal operation of biological treatment processes. The study shows that the unit process configuration, as well as the operation of the WWTP, determines the rate of GHG emission. The applied plant-integrated emission measurement method could be used to ease the burden of quantifying GHG emissions from WWTPs for reporting purposes and could contribute to the development of more accurate depictions of environmental performance of WWTPs. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Pages (from-to)108-118
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biological nitrogen removal
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Methane
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Wastewater
  • Emission control
  • Environmental management
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Sewage pumping plants
  • Spectroscopy
  • Toxicity
  • Water treatment plants
  • Biological treatment process
  • Cavity ring-down spectroscopy
  • Environmental performance
  • Municipal wastewater treatment plants
  • Spatial and temporal variation
  • Wastewater treatment plants
  • Greenhouse gases

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Plant-integrated measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from a municipal wastewater treatment plant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this