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The Carbon Cycle and Wastewater Treatment

December 18, 2022
Featured image for “The Carbon Cycle and Wastewater Treatment”

With climate change and global warming top of mind, the wastewater treatment industry is looking to reduce its footprint. By taking advantage of the carbon cycle and using carbon capture, it may be possible to eliminate most greenhouse gas emissions. However, you’ll need a wastewater treatment system that can help.

Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater treatment removes dangerous contaminants from wastewater and converts it to clean water. For municipal wastewater treatment, most plants rely on the denitrification process to produce clean water. Denitrification helps municipalities combat environmental and economic challenges and decrease water shortages.

The Denitrification Process

Denitrification removes and converts dangerous nitrate contaminants from wastewater into benign nitrogen gas that’s safely released back into the environment.

Additional carbon sources like acids, acetic acid/acetate, carbohydrates, glycerin, MicroC 2000, or methanol is required for denitrification to occur. These carbon sources help produce clean water, but they also heavily pollute the atmosphere.

Carbon And Water Treatment

Traditional municipal plants pump the carbon they produce back into the atmosphere, making the wastewater industry responsible for an estimated 1.6% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Luckily, carbon capture is a plausible solution for the industry, which would create positive effects on climate change and contribute to environmental longevity. The barrier to most cities, however, is the lack of equipment that can capture the carbon output.

With wastewater solutions that are capable of carbon capture, up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions are stored during the treatment process. Once captured, wastewater treatment facilities can reduce their greenhouse gas footprint by storing the captured carbon emissions underground or by utilizing them for applications like oil recovery and manufacturing.


carbon cycle infographic


The Current State of Carbon Capture

Carbon capture equipment is already being adopted by several larger municipalities; in fact, it’s estimated that carbon capture will reduce the wastewater treatment industry’s overall footprint and allow for a significant global reduction of negative carbon emissions.

There are 12 carbon capture and storage projects currently operating in the U.S. In 2021 alone, there were 84 new carbon capture projects announced. For industries, carbon capture is backed by climate experts as the best solution for our climate. At the current rate, carbon capture is projected to capture 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Alternatives to Carbon Capture

This new process could make the denitrification process cleaner. Some people believe that there is an alternative: eliminate denitrification altogether. This option is mostly limited to municipal wastewater and relies on microorganisms to produce clean water.

Microbial Electrochemical Process

The microbial electrochemical process uses microorganisms to produce clean water. These bacteria are activated by electrical and chemical energy, and remove organic matter from wastewater.

Phototrophic Process

There are similar bacteria to the electrochemical process that rely on phototrophy instead. In this case, sunlight stimulates the bacteria to remove heavy metals, organic contaminants, and more from wastewater.

These alternatives sound promising, but they are new. In addition to the massive amount of space needed for the process, the microorganisms are very hard to maintain. Without precise care, the bacteria won’t perform or can die off altogether.

Experts in industries like stone, concrete, and construction are better off using reliable wastewater systems like filter presses and slurry silos. Even municipal operations that have ample space need the reliability that comes from traditional wastewater solutions.

Water Treatment Solutions from Full Circle Water

Wastewater treatment will help us improve our environment, and your business can take part. Full Circle Water offers wastewater treatment systems for every industry that allow you to produce clean water while utilizing carbon capture.

Our slurry solutions are compact, easy to install, and come with reliable customer service. We create custom solutions for stone, concrete, marble, granite, and municipal use. Chat with our slurry experts to find the wastewater treatment system for your organization.