Comparative Life-Cycle Cost Analysis of Alternative Technologies for the Removal of Emerging Contaminants from Urban Wastewater

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Emerging contaminants (ECs) continue to threaten our fragile ecosystem, yet their mitigation remains limited by economic factors. Meanwhile, a relatively expensive material, Graphene Oxide (GO), has shown promise as a solution for EC removal following further development into three graphene-based materials (GBMs): Porous graphene adsorbent (PGa), Graphene-oxide foam adsorbent (GOFa), and the hybrid filter. Due to the nuances of each synthesis process, financial costs will differ throughout the GBMs’ life cycle which have been quantified and compared in the present work at a range of possible breakthrough times. Finally, economic and environmental costs have been combined for each technology to compare eco-efficiency. Results demonstrated a substantial economic advantage of the GBMs when compared to alternative technologies, most notably the GOFa filter that incurred the lowest life-cycle costs at $1.73 ± 0.09/m3. This was mainly attributed to the lower demand of GOFa on the most expensive material required for material synthesis, hydra-zine. In addition, the material demands of GOFa were more evenly distributed which suggest a higher resilience of the overall costs to price hikes of individual materials required for synthesis. In terms of eco-efficiency the GOFa filter also demonstrated the greatest improvement when compared to the reference technology These results have provided robust total investment costs for several technologies that can now offer contrast to other EC-removal solutions.