From pollutant removal to resource recovery: A bibliometric analysis of municipal wastewater research in Europe

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Municipal wastewaters are abundant low-strength streams that require adequate treatment and disposal to ensure public and environmental health. This study aims to provide a comprehensive summary of municipal wastewater research in Europe in the 2010s in the form of bibliometric analysis. The work was based on the Science Citation Index Expanded (Web of Science) and carried out using the R-package bibliometrix for bibliometric data analysis and the software VOSviewer for science mapping. Analysing a dataset of 5645 publications, we identified the most influential journals, countries, authors, institutions, and publications, and mapped the co-authorship and keyword co-occurrence networks. Spain had produced the most publications while Switzerland had the highest average citations per publication. China was the most collaborative country from outside of Europe. Analysis of the most cited articles revealed the popularity of micropollutant removal in European municipal wastewater research. The keyword analysis visualized a paradigm shift from pollutant removal towards resource recovery and circular economy. We found that current challenges of resource recovery from municipal wastewater come from both technical and non-technical (e.g., environmental, economic, and social) aspects. We also discussed future research opportunities that can tackle these challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131267
Early online date21 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Circular economy
  • Europe
  • Micropollutant
  • Municipal wastewater
  • Resource recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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