Sewage treatment – an unglamorous backbone of urban living – could be a cost-effective way to combat climate change by flushing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Z. Jason Ren, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment is the lead author of a new review that points to sewer plants as a major option for for capturing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
“The water industry could play a big role in tackling climate change,” said senior author Jason Ren, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. “It is a very exciting idea because people always think about energy or transportation but water has not been considered as a major factor in carbon reduction.”
In an article analyzing several possible technical approaches in the journal Nature Sustainability on Dec. 18, researchers at Princeton University concluded that sewer plants serving municipalities worldwide offer a major option for capturing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Although cautioning that research and development is needed before the systems could be deployed, the team identified several potentially viable paths to using sewage as a carbon sink – that is, sewer plants could clean the atmosphere as they clean water.
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