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Energy and carbon coupled water footprint analysis for straw pulp paper production

Ma, Xiaotian, Zhai, Yijie, Zhang, Ruirui, Shen, Xiaoxu, Zhang, Tianzuo, Ji, Changxing, Yuan, Xueliang, Hong, Jinglan
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.233 pp. 23-32
arsenic, biochemical oxygen demand, carbon, carbon dioxide, carcinogens, chemical oxygen demand, chromium, coal, copper, decision making, ecotoxicology, electricity generation, emissions, environmental impact, environmental performance, fertilizers, freshwater, mercury, methane, papermaking, pollutants, pulping, steam, straw, strontium, titanium, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, wastewater, water footprint, China
Straw pulp in China, which is the world's largest producer of this material, suffers from water and energy shortages during its entire life cycle. However, limited systematic studies have focused on these issues, and decision makers need be provided with improvement methods for the environmental performance. Thus, an impact-oriented energy and carbon coupled water footprint analysis was conducted in this study based on ISO standards. Results showed that the impact of energy consumption and carbon emissions exceeded that of water footprint. Carcinogens, non-carcinogens, and freshwater ecotoxicity also played effective roles in improving the environmental performance. Optimizing key indirect processes, including chemicals production, steam preparation, electricity generation, wood pulping, and fertilizer recovery, dominated the reduction in environmental burdens. Direct freshwater consumption and wastewater disposal played additional effective roles in controlling water footprint. The water network was thus optimized by a water pinch analysis to decrease the freshwater consumption and pollutant emissions by maximum values of 91.5% and 99.7% after optimization, respectively. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide, methane, chromium, arsenic, mercury, titanium, copper, strontium, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, BOD5, and COD were the main pollutants. Overall, the environmental impact can be further reduced by diminishing coal power ratio in national energy structure, adopting recovered steam, and considering multistage regeneration water network to cope with different water use demands.