A co-beneficial system using constructed wetlands (CWs) planted with aquatic plants is proposed for bioethanol production and nutrient removal from wastewater. The potential for bioethanol production from aquatic plant biomass was experimentally evaluated. Water hyacinth and water lettuce were selected because of their high growth rates and easy harvestability attributable to their free-floating vegetation form. The alkaline/oxidative pretreatment was selected for improving enzymatic hydrolysis of the aquatic plants. Ethanol was produced with yields of 0.14–0.17 g-ethanol/g-biomass in a simultaneous saccharification and fermentation mode using a recombinant Escherichia coli strain or a typical yeast strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Subsequently, the combined benefits of the CWs planted with the aquatic plants for bioethanol production and nutrient removal were theoretically estimated. For treating domestic wastewater at 1,100 m3/d, it was inferred that the anoxic–oxic activated sludge process consumes energy at 3,200 MJ/d, whereas the conventional activated sludge process followed by the CW consumes only 1,800 MJ/d with ethanol production at 115 MJ/d.

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