TMU aims to learn more about GHG emissions from WWTPs, sewer networks

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WWTP GHG emissions
The three-year Alliance Missions research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will monitor emissions, create pilot-scale sewer system models, and develop cutting-edge tools for predicting GHG emissions. Photo Credit: Toronto Metropolitan University

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) has received a $1.4-million research grant to advance the understanding of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from wastewater treatment plants, sewer networks, and sludge management processes, all with the aim of developing greener solutions for wastewater infrastructure in the face of climate change. 

The three-year Alliance Missions research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will monitor emissions, create pilot-scale sewer system models, and develop cutting-edge tools for predicting GHG emissions. 

TMU civil engineering professor Elsayed Elbeshbishy is leading a research team that will focus on detecting both methane and nitrous oxide gases that are hundreds of times stronger than carbon dioxide in contributing to the greenhouse effect. 

“Wastewater systems are major contributors to greenhouse gases globally,” Elbeshbishy said in a statement from TMU. “By gaining a deeper insight into emissions from these sources, the project aims to provide society with precise monitoring tools, practical recommendations, and strategies for reducing emissions.” 

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Elbeshbishy notes that GHG detection methods for the research will include ground-level sensors in air and water, drone sensors, hyperspectral cameras, as well as aircraft and satellite detection. The team will use its detection tools in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia over all seasons and weather conditions to monitor emissions from wastewater treatment plants. 

The team also plans to construct a state-of-the-art pilot-scale sewer system to better understand GHG emissions from sewer systems. 

Additionally, the TMU team will augment existing mathematical models with artificial intelligence technologies to predict GHG emissions from both wastewater treatment plants and sewer systems. 

“This project is advancing innovative climate change research practices and positions TMU as a global leader in green wastewater management,” said Steven Liss, TMU’s vice-president of research and innovation. “It will provide first-of-its-kind insights for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Canada.” 

The project involves 16 partners, including municipalities, industry representatives, and other universities. Notable partners include Brown and Caldwell, USP Technologies, the City of Toronto, Metro Vancouver, the City of Calgary, and the Municipality of Middlesex Centre.   

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