Application of LCA and LCC in the early stages of wastewater treatment design: A multiple case study of brine effluents

Steve Harris*, George Tsalidis, Joan Berzosa Corbera, Jose Jorge Espi Gallart, Fredrik Tegstedt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Technological developments are opening new avenues to facilitate the circular economy through resource recovery from industrial wastewater. This paper presents the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) in the development of technology solutions for the treatment of brine wastewater and recovery of by-products. Four industrial case studies are assessed that apply different innovative technology configurations, to treat the brines and recover the water, salts and mineral compounds. The assessment focusses on identifying hotspots and potential design improvements for the four case studies. In addition, the development of a unified approach for prospective LCA and LCC is illustrated to promote robustness and consistency in the analysis of the four systems. The analysis reveals that the impact and cost of treatment is highly dependent on the wastewater composition. Critically, whether the recovery of compounds and deionised water can counteract the impact and cost of the treatment systems. The early analysis suggests that this is possible for two of the cases studies. Estimates of the GHG emissions for the initial system analysis, range from 10 to 17 kg CO2e/m3, whilst costs range from €10/m3 to €25/m3. However, both are expected to decrease at full scale and are sensitive to costs of energy, chemicals and revenue from recovered by-products. The LCA's highlight chemical and energy consumption as critical hotspots. Design considerations therefore focus on the reduction of chemicals, reuse or switching to lower impact chemicals, and maximising by-product recovery, and using renewable energy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127298
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • By-product recovery
  • Circular economy
  • Life cycle costing
  • Prospective life cycle assessment
  • Wastewater treatment


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