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Wastewater-Fertigated Short-Rotation Coppice, a Combined Scheme of Wastewater Treatment and Biomass Production: A State-of-the-Art Review

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  • Mirko Hänel, Technology Transfer Center (TTZ) Bremerhaven, Aarhus University
  • ,
  • Darja Istenič, University of Ljubljana
  • ,
  • Hans Brix
  • Carlos A. Arias

Vegetated filters based on short-rotation coppice (SRC) can be used to treat various industrial and municipal wastewater while producing valuable biomass in an economical and sustainable way, showing potential in the field of pollution control and bio-based circular economy. This study provides an overview of the state of the art in wastewater-fertigated SRC systems (wfSRCs) world-wide. Different designs, wastewater sources, tree species and varieties, planting schemes, geographic locations, and climates for wfSRC implementation were identified after conducting a literature review. The performance review includes standard water quality parameters, BOD5, COD, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, as well as the extent of pathogen and emergent contaminant removal and biomass production rates. Identified knowledge gaps and important factors to support the practical implementation of wfSRCs are highlighted. Europe leads the research of wfSRC, followed by North America and Australia. The available publications are mainly from developed countries (73%). The most applied and studied tree species in wfSRC systems are willows (32%), followed by eucalyptus (21%) and poplars (18%). Most of the reviewed studies used domestic wastewater (85%), followed by industrial wastewater (8%) and landfill leachate (7%). Most data show high BOD5 and COD removal efficiencies (80%). There are large differences in the documented total nitrogen and total phosphorus removal efficiencies (12%–99% and 40%–80%, respectively). En-hanced biomass growth in wfSRC systems due to wastewater fertigation was reported in all reviewed studies, and biomass production varied from 3.7 to 40 t DM/ha/yr. WfSRCs seem to have high potential as viable and cost-effective wastewater treatment alternatives to conventional treatment technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number810
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

    Research areas

  • biomass production systems, energy crops, nature-based wastewater treatment systems, wastewater-fertigated/irrigated short-rotation coppice/plantation (SRC, SRP), wetland treatment

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