Material recovery: Modelling of material, energy and exergy flows;;;;

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The following video gives a brief overview of the operation of a material recovery facility (MRF) for a case-study on municipal solid waste.

Material recovery is an essential phase in the life-cycle of a product which determines its sustainability. By capturing materials from products at their end-of-life, society can reduce landfilling as well as the depletion of natural resources, thus avoiding the environmental impact associated with the primary production of raw materials.

In one aspect of this project, we worked with the waste management plants that Ferrovial operates all over Spain on increasing the recovery of recyclable materials from municipal solid waste. To evaluate these MRFs, we formulate a network flow model representing the material flows through their mechanical and manual sorting units. We validate the model using data from an existing MRF to estimate the separation efficiency parameters. We then optimize the system design for profit and performance using a developed genetic algorithm. We also demonstrate the trade-off between recovery rate (quantity) and grade (quality) of recovered material streams, and the impact of varying input composition and separation efficiencies.
The following video briefly describes the optimization process.

In the next phase of the project, we will extend our model to materially-complex products, such as vehicles and waste electrical and electronic appliances (WEEE). We will look at how product design choices, such as material selection, affects end-of-life material recovery. Evaluating the quantity and quality of recovered materials will enable us to better estimate the costs and environmental impact using the modeled material, energy and exergy flows.
The following video explains how a product's material complexity relates its recycling, with an ongoing case-study of end-of-life vehicles.

Buildings: Energy use modelling

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In order to evaluate the most promising engineering strategies to address planetary level issues such as climate change, one needs tools that can span the breadth of the size scales involved. In this project we are concerned with energy use in the product manufacturing sector. Our focus is on the factory energy environment that needs to combine manufacturing process performance with building performance. We develop a high level energy model that incorporates the process equipment mainly as internal heat sources, as well as material flows including air exchange rates, and incoming raw materials, subcomponents and packaging, and outgoing products, co- products and wastes. The building model includes work inputs, lighting and other internal heat sources as well as heat transfer through the building envelope. The objective of this model is to provide a high level aggregate quantitative interpretation of the factory energy performance. The model is general enough to apply to any building in any part of the world, provided certain basic parameters are known.


D. Sekulic (U. of Kentucky)

R. Pan (U. of Kentucky)

Automobile assembly plant: Energy used and carbon emitted

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As a special case of our building energy modeling, we develop a detailed model for any automobile assembly plant. Using global data we develop a model that is representative of an average global plant and test energy improvement strategies for their effectiveness.

T. Gutowski

S. Raykar

M. Schmieder (RWTH Aachen, Germany)

RAFFT Project: Modeling the benefits of a new incremental sheet forming technology;

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Rapid and Flexible Forming Technology (RAFFT) is a new sheet metal forming process in which heavy fixed dies are replaced with computer controlled mobile tools.

The project is part of a three-year, $7.04 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to advance next-generation, energy-efficient manufacturing processes. Led by Ford, other collaborators include Northwestern University, The Boeing Company and Penn State Erie. EBM are leading the collaboration in assessing the potential energy, carbon and cost benefits of the technology.

Additive manufacturing: Tracking the energy use of emerging technology;

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This project focuses on the energy and resource efficiency of “additive manufacturing” technologies.

By categorizing and studying different additive manufacturing methods, we will compare it with conventional manufacturing and evaluate the feasibility of its application in injection molding tooling. To fully assess the environmental impact of additive technologies, the analysis will include pre- and post-processing.

Thermodynamic Analysis of Manufacturing Processes

Stephanie Dalquist; Jeffrey Dahmus; Alex Thiriez; Alissa Jones; Matthew Branham; Dusan Sekulic, U. Kentucky; Timothy Gutowski. Sponsors: National Science Foundation, SKF


Sahil Sahni, MIT Dept. of Material Science & Eng.; Avid Boustani, MIT Dept. of Mechanical Eng.; Malima Wolf, MIT Dept. of Mechanical Eng.; Elsa Olivetti, MIT Dept. of Material Science & Eng.; Steve Graves, MIT Sloan School; Timothy Gutowski. Sponsor: MIT Energy Initiative


Malima Wolf; Natalia Duque Ciceri; Jeffrey Dahmus; Dominic Albino; Phillip Bohr, TU Berlin; Ante Mrkonjic, U. Stuttgart; Brianne Metzger; Timothy Gutowski. Sponsors: National Science Foundation, Hewlett Packard. Collaborators: Roger Morton, Axion Ltd. U.K.; Mike Mankosa, Eriez

Production and Efficiency

Jones, Jeffrey Dahmus; Suganth Kalakkad; Arnaud Uzabiaga, Ecole Polytechnic, Paris; Olivia Grehler, BU; Timothy Gutowski

Environmental Life Style Analysis

Amanda Taplett, Anna Allen, Amy Banzaert, Rob Cirinciore, Christopher Cleaver, Stacy Figueredo, Susan Fredholm, Betar Gallant, Alissa Jones, Jonathan Krones, Barry Kudrowitz, Cynthia Lin, Alfredo Morales, David Quinn, Megan Roberts, Robert Scaringe, Tim Studley, Sittha Sukkasi, Mika Tomczak, Jessica Vechakul, Malima Wolf, Timothy Gutowski

Environmental Analysis of Manufacturing Processes

Jeffrey Dahmus, Stephanie Dalquist, Alex Thiriez, Timothy Gutowski. Sponsor: National Science Foundation.Collaborators; Jung-Hoon Chun, MIT; John Sutherland, Michigan Tech; Marquita Hill, University of Maine, Orono

Production, Use and Efficiency

Jeffrey Dahmus, Timothy Gutowski

A Permit Market Approach to Foster Sust. Man. of Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Philipp Bohr, Timothy Gutowski: In the course of this project, an analysis of plausible regulatory incentive schemes to foster sustainable manufacturing of electrical and electronic equipment is conducted. The main emphasis is on closing material loops via reuse, remanufacturing and recycling.

Recycling Index for Inkjet Printers

Brianne Metzger, Timothy Gutowski. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard. Collaborators: Tim Frederick and Erin Gately, HP

Benign and Efficient Materials

Olivia Grebler, Timothy Gutowski