Wastewater treatment for carbon capture and utilization

Lu Lu, Jeremy S. Guest, Catherine Anne Peters, Xiuping Zhu, Greg H. Rau, Zhiyong Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

296 Scopus citations


A paradigm shift is underway in wastewater treatment as the industry heads toward ~3% of global electricity consumption and contributes ~1.6% of greenhouse gas emissions. Although incremental improvements to energy efficiency and renewable energy recovery are underway, studies considering wastewater for carbon capture and utilization are few. This Review summarizes alternative wastewater treatment pathways capable of simultaneous CO2 capture and utilization, and demonstrates the environmental and economic benefits of microbial electrochemical and phototrophic processes. Preliminary estimates demonstrate that re-envisioning wastewater treatment may entirely offset the industry’s greenhouse gas footprint and make it a globally significant contributor of negative carbon emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-758
Number of pages9
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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