Date of Award

8-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Michael Carbajales-Dale

Committee Member

Dr. Karen High

Committee Member

Dr. Sudeep Popat

Committee Member

Dr. Terry Walker

Abstract

For sustainable design, technology developers need to consider not only technical and economic aspects but also potential environmental impacts while developing new technologies. Techno-economic analysis (TEA) evaluates the technical performance and economic feasibility of a technology. Life cycle assessment (LCA) evaluates the potential environmental impacts associated with a product system throughout its life cycle from raw material extraction to disposal. Generally, TEA and LCA are performed separately for technology assessment. Understanding of the trade-off between economic and environmental performances is crucial for sustainable process design, which is not fully available if TEA and LCA is performed separately. In contrast, integration of TEA and LCA enables systematic analysis of the relationships between technical, economic, and environmental performance and provides more information to technology developers for trade-off analysis. Integrated TEA-LCA tool can also reduce inconsistency between system boundaries, functional units, and assumptions that can arise from using standalone TEA and LCA findings in decision making. There is also growing interest of prospective application of integrated TEA-LCA tool to evaluate emerging technologies at early technology readiness level (TRL). Integration of TEA and LCA is still an evolving area and requires further exploration to develop a consistent methodological guideline. The main objective of this study is to develop an integrated TEA-LCA framework for sustainable process design. In this study, we identify the methodological choices and challenges of TEA-LCA integration approaches and evaluate the current state-of-the-art in integrated TEA and LCA. We also identify major challenges to perform integrated TEA-LCA analysis of emerging technologies at low TRLs. For sustainable process design, we develop a novel framework for integrated TEA-LCA applications. We demonstrate the application of integrated TEA-LCA framework in two case studies. In the first case study, integrated TEA-LCA framework is applied to evaluate the economic and environmental performance of existing Clemson University Wastewater Treatment Plant (CUWWTP) to support decision-making in the development of a sustainable process. In the second case study, integrated TEA-LCA framework is applied to evaluate potential economic and environmental performance of a modified CUWWTP plant where existing aerobic wastewater treatment process will be replaced by emerging anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) process and compared with existing treatment process. Based on the findings from integrated TEA-LCA tool, AnMBR with 1.8 MGD and 30 LMH flux shows marginally better performance compared to current CUWWTP from both economic and environmental perspective.

Available for download on Thursday, August 31, 2023

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