MIT SEMINAR SERIES IN MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTIVITY
Place: Room 33-116 Time: 12:00 P.M. Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing & Productivity, & MIT Mechanical Engineering
What do you think “sustainable manufacturing” means? The expression is now commonly used in the manufacturing community. There are conferences on sustainable manufacturing, journals on sustainable manufacturing and soon even books. Yet the expression means different things to different people. Furthermore, as you will see, some of the most common interpretations are not likely to lead to sustainability at all.
We will start by taking a close look at how economists, ecologists and thermodynamicists would interpret this concept. Although the perspectives differ widely, there is some common ground that provides for useful directions. The differences also point to what we don’t know, and what we need to learn. With these observations, one can outline a research agenda for “sustainable manufacturing”. A core feature of this agenda will be a renewed emphasis on thermodynamics, with applications to very large systems.
Timothy G. Gutowski is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at M.I.T. He conducts research on the interaction of manufacturing and product design with the environment.