Synthesis of wastewater treatment plant based on minimal waste generation cost: A material flow cost accounting (MFCA) approach

Jo Yee Ho, Denny K. S. Ng, Yoke Kin Wan*, Viknesh Andiappan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Wastewater treatment (WWT) is a mandatory process to ensure wastewater quality meets legislation requirements and to reduce environmental impacts. Many established WWT technologies are available in the market and the selection of such technologies is usually based on heuristics. However, technologies selected using heuristics may not be able to guarantee optimal economic performance. In this respect, it is important for manufacturing companies to synthesise a WWT process with minimum investment cost while meeting legislation requirements. Most manufacturing companies face issues to achieve this goal. Among these issues, is the fact that part of the investment invested into a WWT process will be lost to waste (sludge cake) generation. The generated waste (sludge cake) will require additional high waste disposal costs. Therefore, to reduce the loss of investment in a WWT process, the waste generation cost and waste disposal cost must be minimised. This can be addressed via Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA), a management tool that quantifies material flows across physical and monetary values in a production process. Previous works had adapted the concept of MFCA for prioritisation of waste streams for waste recovery and minimisation of investment cost in processes with revenue streams. Thus, the objective of this paper is to extend the use of MFCA as a preliminary decision-making tool in the selection of WWT technologies with minimum waste generation cost. To illustrate the developed approach, a case study on sago-based WWT process is solved in this work. Based on the results, the synthesised WWT process from the developed model is capable of recovering as much as 93.3 % of the total operating cost back into the manufacturing process while minimising the waste generation cost to 6.7 % of the operating investment cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-578
Number of pages20
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Early online date14 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Hidden costs
  • Material flow cost accounting (MFCA)
  • Process synthesis
  • Waste generation cost
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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