MIT SEMINAR SERIES IN MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTIVITY
Place: Room 35-225 Time: 12:00 P.M. Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Manufacturing interacts with the environment primarily by virtue of control over materials and energy flows. The key events are design, process, operations and procurement decisions. Currently it is estimated that global anthropogenic material flows exceed naturally occurring material flows for 54 of the 77 elements in the periodic table that have been measured. This “human dust” can, and often does interfere with natural processes. The current high profile example is carbon, but anthropogenic interference is in fact, quite wide spread. In addition, on a worldwide basis, the trends are mostly toward increased usage of energy and materials in almost every category.
Devising engineering answers to the environmental problems posed by this anthropogenic materials mobilization requires systems knowledge. The path from engineering action to environmental outcome is quite complex, involving coupled, non-linear and often unstable phenomena. Furthermore, our continued loading of the environment is likely to provoke still new cases which are not yet known.
In this talk, we will highlight some recent results from our research on: 1) the environmental profile of some manufacturing processes and products, 2) the effectiveness of the major green engineering strategies, and 3) the relationship between product design and materials recycling potential.