Estimating Overall Costs of Wastewater Treatment Processes with Substance and Energy Recovery

Overall costs of wastewater treatment processes with substance/energy recovery in a treatment facility are the sum of capital costs and operating costs minus sale price or savings of recovered substances and/or energy. However, forecasting cost savings as a result of recovered substances and/or energy is difficult. Whether a new product or energy from a waste-water treatment facility will be accepted in the marketplace depends on several factors, including additional costs of producing the product, properties of the product, environmental impact, public acceptance, and governmental subsidies. An additional hurdle to forecasting the fate of a recovered product from the food and agricultural wastewater treatment process is that price and/or availability of the competing alternative to the recycled product is also changing constantly; thus, any meaningful long-term forecasting of economical benefits of energy/substance recovery from wastes is contentious. Biofuel is a case in point; if the petroleum oil price in the world market is through the roof or there is a widespread shortage of petroleum products due to catastrophes or wars in oil-producing nations or regions, biofuel will be very competitive in price provided that the energy of producing it is from sources other than petroleum oil or mined natural gas.

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