The aim of this study was to estimate the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated from whole life cycle stages of a sewer pipeline system and suggest the strategies to mitigate GHG emissions from the system. The process-based life cycle assessment (LCA) with a city-scale inventory database of a sewer pipeline system was conducted. The GHG emissions (direct, indirect, and embodied) generated from a sewer pipeline system in Daejeon Metropolitan City (DMC), South Korea, were estimated for a case study. The potential improvement actions which can mitigate GHG emissions were evaluated through a scenario analysis based on a sensitivity analysis. The amount of GHG emissions varied with the size (150, 300, 450, 700, and 900 mm) and materials (polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), concrete, and cast iron) of the pipeline. Pipes with smaller diameter emitted less GHG, and the concrete pipe generated lower amount of GHG than pipes made from other materials. The case study demonstrated that the operation (OP) stage (3.67 × 104 t CO2eq year−1, 64.9%) is the most significant for total GHG emissions (5.65 × 104 t CO2eq year−1) because a huge amount of CH4 (3.51 × 104 t CO2eq year−1) can be generated at the stage due to biofilm reaction in the inner surface of pipeline. Mitigation of CH4 emissions by reducing hydraulic retention time (HRT), optimizing surface area-to-volume (A/V) ratio of pipes, and lowering biofilm reaction during the OP stage could be effective ways to reduce total GHG emissions from the sewer pipeline system. For the rehabilitation of sewer pipeline system in DMC, the use of small diameter pipe, combination of pipe materials, and periodic maintenance activities are suggested as suitable strategies that could mitigate GHG emissions. This study demonstrated the usability and appropriateness of the process-based LCA providing effective GHG mitigation strategies at a city-scale sewer pipeline system. The results obtained from this study could be applied to the development of comprehensive models which can precisely estimate all GHG emissions generated from sewer pipeline and other urban environmental systems.

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