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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Extreme gas production in anthropogenic fibrous sediments: An overlooked biogenic source of greenhouse gas emissions

Lehoux, Alizee P.; Isidorova, Anastasija; Collin, Fredrik; Koestel, John; Snowball, Ian; Dahlberg, Anna-Karin


Fibrous sediments that originated from old pulp and paper industry emissions are recognized as a potential threat to the aquatic environment because they are highly contaminated. In addition, biogenic degradation of the organic material from so-called "fiberbanks" has a high potential to produce greenhouse gases (GHG). In this study, X-ray tomography, optical sensors and gas analyzers were used to identify and quantify the gas produced and released from samples of two different fiberbanks. We show that a finer fibrous structure allows the formation of larger gas bubbles and higher gas production rates compared to coarser material composed of wood pieces. High contents of methane (average 56% to 65%) and carbon dioxide (average 18% to 20%) were measured in the gas emitted from both types of fiberbank. Measured methane production rates from the fiberbanks samples are one to three orders of magnitude higher than previously reported rates from sediments within the studied temperature range (between 0.03 and 0.51 mu m CH4/h/g dw over 4.7 to 20 degrees C). The potential for methane and carbon dioxide production in the fiberbank volume likely present in Sweden is estimated to correspond to 7% of Sweden's total known GHG emissions for 2019. These findings show that fiberbanks have the potential to be a significant emitter of GHG. (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V.


Contaminated sediment; Fiberbanks; Methane; Gas release; Paper industry; X-ray

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2021, Volume: 781, article number: 146772
Publisher: ELSEVIER