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Benchmarking the scientific research on wastewater-energy nexus by using bibliometric analysis

Zheng, Tianlong, Li, Pengyu, Shi, Zhining, Liu, Jianguo
Environmental science and pollution research international 2017 v.24 no.35 pp. 27613-27630
activated sludge, anaerobic ammonium oxidation, anaerobic digestion, bibliometric analysis, climate change, cluster analysis, databases, energy, energy recovery, environmental impact, fossil fuels, hydrogen, income, industrialization, life cycle assessment, methodology, microbial fuel cells, renewable energy sources, sustainable development, toxic substances, urbanization, wastewater, wastewater treatment, water pollution, China, United States
With an exponential increase in urbanization and industrialization, water pollution is an inevitable consequence of relatively lagging wastewater treatment facilities. The conventional activated sludge process for wastewater treatment primarily emphasizes the removal of harmful substances to maintain increasingly stringent effluent discharged standards, which is considered an energy-intensive technique. Therefore, innovative and sustainable wastewater treatment should pay more attention to energy and resource recovery in dealing with fossil fuel depletion, global-scale energy security, and climate change. A bibliometric analysis was applied to trace wastewater-energy nexus-related research during the period 1991 to 2015, with respect to the Science Citation Index EXPANDED (SCI-EXPANDED) database. Journal of Hazardous Materials, ranking 1st in h-index (79), was the most productive journal (431, 4.5%) during the same time, followed by International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (422, 4.4%) and Water Research (393, 4.1%) journal, the latter owning a topmost journal impact factor. Though, China (2154, 22.5%) was the most productive country, while the USA with highest h-index (88) was the favorest collaborative country. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (241, 2.5%) produced the maximum publications. A novel method called “word cluster analysis” showed that the emerging sustainable processes and novel renewable energy application are applied in response to the desire for a net wastewater-energy nexus system. Based on different wastewater types, the emerging energy and sources recovery treatment processes of Anammox, anaerobic digestion, and microbial fuel cells gained extensive innovation. Evaluation indicators including sustainability, life cycle assessment, and environmental impact were appropriately used to dissert feasibility of the novel treatment methods in regard of renewable energy utilization, energy savings, and energy recovery. The transformation of the new concept of “broaden income source, economize on expenditures and exploit inner potential” should be generalized in order to achieve an environmentally sustainable development of wastewater-energy nexus system.