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Environmental and economic analysis of application of water hyacinth for eutrophic water treatment coupled with biogas production

Zanxin Wang and Margaret M. Calderon Journal of Environmental Management 110 (2012) 246-253.


The proliferation of water hyacinth is currently controlled by removing it from a water body and disposing it by landfill in China. Using water hyacinth to remove nutrients from water bodies and to produce biogas is another technically feasible option for the control of water hyacinth, but its environmental and economic performances are not well understood. This study collected data from an experimental biogas plant to develop a lifecycle analysis and a cost benefit analysis for the control of water hyacinth proliferation in a eutrophic lake in China. Comparisonwas made between the alternative option of using water hyacinth for biogas production and the current practice of disposing it in landfills. The results reveal that the biogas option is economically feasible with a positive energy balance. The removal of water hyacinth to produce biogas can contribute to water quality improvement and GHG emission reduction whose values, however, depend on the processing scale of the biogas plant. Since both the current approach and the biogas option can remove nutrients from water bodies, the additional value of water quality improvement resulting from the biogas option is only possible when the processing scale of the biogas plant is greater than the amount of water hyacinth disposed by landfill. The emission of methane deserves attention when water hyacinth is disposed by landfill. The biogas option can respond to China’s policies on water pollution control, renewable energy development, and energy saving and emission reduction.

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Keywords: Water hyacinth bloom, Economic feasibility, Phytoremediation, Biogas, Landfill Carbon balance

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