A comparative life cycle assessment of two treatment technologies for the Grey Lanaset G textile dye: Biodegradation by Trametes versicolor and granular activated carbon adsorption

Xavier Gabarrell, Mercè Font, Teresa Vicent, Gloria Caminal, Montserrat Sarrà, Paqui Blánquez

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose The aim of this study is to use life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the relative environmental performance of the treatment using Trametes versicolor with a common method such as activated carbon adsorption. This comparison will evaluate potential environmental impacts of the two processes. This work compiles life cycle inventory data for a biological process that may be useful for other emergent biotechnological processes in water and waste management. LCA was performed to evaluate the use of a new technology for the removal of a model metal-complex dye, Grey Lanaset G, from textile wastewater by means of the fungus T. versicolor. This biological treatment was compared with a conventional coal-based activated carbon adsorption treatment to determine which alternative is preferable from an environmental point of view. Materials and methods The study is based on experimental research that has tested the novel process at the pilot scale. The analysis of the biological system ranges from the production of the electricity and ingredients required for the growth of the fungus and ends with the composting of the residual biomass from the process. The analysis of the activated carbon system includes the production of the adsorbent material and the electricity needed for the treatment and regeneration of the spent activated carbon. Seven indicators that measure the environmental performance of these technologies are included in the LCA. The indicators used are climate change, ozone depletion, human toxicity, photochemical oxidant formation, terrestial acidification, freshwater eutrophication, marine eutrophication, terrestrial ecotoxicity, freshwater ecotoxicity, marine ecotoxicity, metal depletion and fossil depletion. Results The results show that the energy use throughout the biological process, mainly for sterilisation and aeration, accounts for the major environmental impacts with the inoculum sterilisation being the most critical determinant. Nevertheless, the biological treatment has lower impacts than the physicochemical system in six of these indicators when steam is generated directly on site. A low-grade carbon source as an alternative to glucose might contribute to reduce the eutrophication impact of this process. Conclusions The LCA shows that the biological treatment process using the fungus T. versicolor to remove Grey Lanaset G offers important environmental advantages in comparison with the traditional activated carbon adsorption method. This study also provides environmental data and an indication of the potential impacts of characteristic processes that may be of interest for other applications in the field of biological waste treatment and wastewater treatment involving white-rot fungi. © Springer-Verlag 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-624
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Activated carbon
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Metal-complex dyes
  • Wastewater treatment
  • White-rot fungi


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