China's urban methane emissions from municipal wastewater treatment plant

X. Zhao, X. K. Jin, W. Guo, C. Zhang, Y. L. Shan, M. X. Du, M. R. Tillotson, H. Yang, X. W. Liao, Y. P. Li

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The increased number and capacity of municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in China has driven the emission of methane (CH 4 ). Few studies have focused on quantification of CH4 emissions from municipal WWTPs of different cities and analysis of socioeconomic factors influencing the quantity of emissions. Here we estimated CH4 emissions from WWTPs in China for 229 prefectural-level cities, based on data from 2,019 working municipal WWTPs. The results show the total CH4 emissions to be 1,169.8 thousand tons (29.2 MtCO2 e) in 2014, which is over three times that of the municipal WWTPs in the United States in 2016. Large cities along the east coast regions had larger CH4 emissions in absolute and per capita terms. Correlation analysis shows that cities with higher gross domestic product, household food consumption expenditure, or household consumption expenditure produced more degradable organics in wastewater, thus more CH4 emissions. Measures to control the sources of degradable organics and regulate WWTP processes with less emission factor are key to mitigate CH4 emissions. In addition to aerobic or anaerobic wastewater treatment systems, factors such as wastewater temperature, length of sewer, and the addition of nitrate that influencing emission factor are suggested to be involved in CH4 emission modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number4
Early online date15 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • emission factor
  • greenhouse gas
  • sewage treatment
  • urbanization

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