Strategic Assessment of Drinking Water Production Systems Environmental impacts from a Life cycle perspective : A case study of Norrvatten future drinking water production alternatives
Sammanfattning: Climate change is a global challenge that requires proactive action from municipalities, companies, and other organizations to prioritize sustainability in their daily operations. In the past few decades, life cycle assessment (LCA) approach has been successfully applied for environmental assessments in the drinking water sector. In this study, this approach has been used to present a comparative evaluation of the potential environmental impacts associated with nine different process alternatives for future drinking water production at Norrvatten. This study is a pioneering one that explores the potential of LCA as a decision support tool to prioritize and optimize environmental impacts during the operational phase in Swedish drinking water production. The nine alternatives are designed for the year 2050 to meet the average daily demand of 208 MLD for the 14 municipalities in the northern Stockholm region that Norrvatten supplies with drinking water. Out of the nine alternatives, the alternative based on direct filtration of raw water on nanofiltration membranes came out as the most environmentally friendly solution due to the use of renewable electricity from hydro and wind power. The results indicate that the potential environmental impacts are dominated by the use of chemicals in all alternatives, which in turn depends on the energy sources used for chemical production that are mostly dominated by fossil-based non-renewable sources. The impacts due to transportation and energy consumption are relatively less in Swedish drinking water production. Moreover, filtration through granulated activated carbon (GAC) is the most environmentally damaging treatment step, but regeneration of saturated GAC induces positive impacts in all alternatives. Among environmental impact categories, categories related to fine particulate matter formation; global warming, human carcinogenic toxicity, and human non-carcinogenic toxicity are the most significant in all alternatives. Several of the treatment technologies included in the nine alternatives, such as Nanofiltration, have only been tested on a pilot scale and have not been used for drinking water production at Norrvatten. So this study should be followed up and supplemented with better representative inventory data relevant to the Swedish context in order to contribute more effectively in making the future Swedish drinking water production more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Also, this study is based on the most recently available data that may not be valid in 2050 and the latest trends to substitute non-renewable energy sources with renewable sources may reduce the impacts due to chemical production and transportation in the future. Moreover, this LCA study does not include any aspects of water quality and treatment costs. Hence, while comparing different alternatives, the quality of the treated water and its production cost must also be taken into account.
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