Meet Dimitris Athanasopoulos-Tseles

Academic and Industrial affiliations: Cranfield University & Severn Trent Water
Title of research project: Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment

An unintended consequence of biological wastewater treatment is the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Further, natural and induced biological activity in biosolids also results in further emissions such that wastewater treatment works contains a number of point sources where greenhouse gases will be emitted. Current approaches to qualify such levels are based on static emission rates that do not reflect changes in operation or control that may reduce the total quantity of GHGs emitted. 
The most direct and effective way to eliminate, or at least reduce, scope 1 emissions is to utilise abiotic processes for the treatment of wastewater. However, the efficacy and practicality of doing so is unclear, especially framed against the fact that the majority of the existing infrastructure is based around biological processes which inherently emit GHG. Accordingly, there is a need to establish both (a) future flowsheets that can deliver operational carbon neutrality to ensure future development work is focused towards the right technologies, and (b) establish bases to reduce GHG emissions from existing infrastructure, so that emissions can be minimized.