Energy, Sustainability, and Life Cycle Assessment
Date: June 13-15, 2016 | Tuition: $2,600 | Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 1.9
*This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.
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The purpose of this class is to address the issues of sustainability and to expand the engineering perspective of this problem. First, we review the concept of sustainability from several points of view including economics, ecology, and business. This discussion addresses the shortcomings of several approaches including “eco-efficiency” and the “triple bottom line." We then develop a resource accounting perspective in some detail with the emphasis in four areas:
- Energy resources analysis, energy and exergy flows, balances, efficiencies, primary energy use, energy return on investment, net energy analysis, and renewable energy – all from a thermodynamic perspective.
- Material resources analysis, including not only the materials used in the delivery of products and services, but also the effects on major material cycles such as carbon, water, and nitrogen. This approach will be expanded to aggregate both fuels and non-fuel materials by using an exergy analysis approach.
- Life cycle assessment (LCA) of products and services, including variations on the method such as input-output models, hybrid models, consequential LCA and exergy methods that can incorporate ecosystem services.
- Design for sustainability accounting for the role of ecosystem services in supporting industrial activities, and an assessment of alternative sustainability solution approaches.
The class uses our book Thermodynamics and the Destruction of Resources (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and builds on these topics from a solid basis. Examples will be taken from diverse areas but with special attention to current and emerging chemical and manufacturing processes and product analysis. Participants are encouraged to bring sample cases for discussion and class will include time for hands-on LCA demonstrations.
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (30%)
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (25%)
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (30%)
Other: Decision making and designing for change (15%)
Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (60%)
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (20%)
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (20%)
Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (25%)
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (55%)
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (20%)
- Identify alternative interpretations of sustainability, including economic, ecological, business, and resource accounting. Assess the importance of these views to particular situations. Understand the importance of adequate system definition for a sustainability problem definition. Apply resource accounting methods to sustainability problems.
- Review thermodynamic principles as an example of a rigorous approach to resource accounting. Understand the energy/exergy methods of analysis. Apply energy and exergy accounting to new situations.
- Analyze energy transformation and materials transformation processes using various resource accounting approaches. Examples can include various chemical and manufacturing processes, recycling, new technology assessment, transportation, and others.
- Explore life cycle assessment (LCA), including advanced LCA methods. Apply these methods to new situations and analyze products and services.
- Examine resource accounting at multiple scales, including carbon, water, nitrogen, and ecosystem services.
Who Should Attend
This class is intended for professionals from manufacturing, design, energy, and sustainability, as well as for academics (faculty, researchers, and graduate students).
Introductions and Outline (Gutowski)
- Meet and greet, discuss outline, goals of the class
- Review questionnaire results
- Start discussion
- Brundtland statement and others (triple bottom line, inclusive wealth, planetary boundaries): current versus future well-being, scale and boundaries, aggregation and substitution (weak versus strong) static and dynamic (resilience), wicked and tame (tractable)
- Multiple states, relative and absolute measures, emphasis on ecosystem services and limits
- Measures to address climate change (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), energy and carbon in particular
- Open discussion on the sustainability concept
Resources*: Text Chapter 19, Rockstrom, 2009
*Full references for resources are given at the end of the program outline.
Environmental Accounting (Gutowski)
- Example problems to introduce:
° Key issues of environmental and thermodynamic accounting
° Life cycle phases (extraction, materials refinement, manufacturing use and end-of-life)
° Boundaries and allocation, unit of service, aggregation, and accuracy
Resources: Text Chapters 4 & 6; Gutowski, 2013; Ashby, 2013
Key thermodynamic concepts (Sekulic)
- Revisiting the meaning/determination of energy, available energy (exergy), and associated fundamental thermodynamic concepts for open/closed systems
- Evaluation of physical and chemical exergy, calculation procedures, identification of the environment for a considered system, the reference states
- Examples of exergy calculation for energy interactions (heat and work) and flow exergies of material streams
Resources: Text Chapters 1, 2, 4, 6
Energy for Sustainable Development (Sekulic)
- Energy resources (global and local)
- Energy flows (Sankey) and exergy flows (Grassmann) at different systems’ scales
- Energy conversion efficiencies, traditional and transformational technologies
- Energy versus environmental and societal trade-offs
- Energy/exergy flows in materials processing and manufacturing
- Primary energy use within the sustainability metrics space (metrics aggregation or separation)
- Examples of exergy losses’ calculations for selected technologies, allocation of internal and external losses
Resources: Text Chapters 5, 8, 11, 15; Smil, V., (2008) Chapters 2, 8, 10, 11; Allwood, J. M., and Cullen, (2012) Parts 1 and 2
LCA Methods & Examples (Gutowski)
- Methodology, ISO 14000 guidelines
- Process LCA
- Input/output methods (expanding boundaries using physical and financial flows)
- Software, comparisons, examples
Resources: Text Chapters 13, 14; Hendrickson, Lave, and Matthews, 2006
Advanced LCA: Thermodynamic Analysis and Accounting for Ecosystem Services (Bakshi)
- Energy analysis
- Accounting for ecosystem services
- Cumulative exergy and emergy
- Hands-on demonstration including hybrid LCA
Resources: Text Chapters 3, 12
Advanced LCA: MRIO, Consequential LCA, Improvement Analysis (Bakshi)
- Demonstrations of new LCA methods including: multi-regional input-output (MRIO) models to assess effects of global trade, consequential LCA (e.g. ethanol and land use)
- Optimization methods for improvement analysis and design
Resources: carbonfootprintofnations.com, Hertwich and Peters 2009
Design for Sustainability (Bakshi)
- Integrated design of technological and ecological systems
- Opportunities for innovation
- Challenges in reducing ecological overshoot
- Applications to biofuels and habitats
Resources: Urban and Bakshi, 2013
Solution approaches, opportunities, and limitations (Gutowski)
- Substitution, efficiency, and end-of-pipe treatment
- Ecological restoration, demand reduction
- Examples of what works, limitations, and challenges
Solution approaches continued (ALL)
- Final thoughts, open discussion, distribution of certificates
References are listed on this page so that participants can read further if desired. The textbook will be handed out on the first day of class.
“Text” refers to:
Bakshi, B. R., Gutowski, T. G., and Sekulic, D. P., Thermodynamics and the Destruction of Resources, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2011. This will be given out on the first day of class.
Suggested pre-reading resources include:
Allwood, J. M., and Cullen, J. M., Sustainable Materials – With Both Eyes Open, UIT Cambridge Ltd., UK, 2012.
Ashby, M. F., Materials and the Environment, Second ed. Butterworth-Heinemann, London, 2013.
Gutowski, T. G., Sahni, S., Allwood, J., Ashby, M., Worrell, E., The Energy Required to Produce Materials: Constraints on Energy Intensity Improvements, Parameters of Demand, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 371, 2013.
Hendricson, C. T., Lave, L. B., and Matthews, H. S., Environmental Assessment of Goods and Services; An Input-Output Approach, Resources for the Future, 2006.
Hertwich, E. G., Peters, G. P., Carbon Footprint of Nations: A Global Trade-linked Analysis, Env. Sci. Technol. 43, 6414-6420, 2009.
Rockström, J., Safe Operating Space for Humanity, Nature, Vol. 461, 24 Sept. 2009.
Smil, V., Energy in Nature and Society, General Energetics of Complex Systems, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2008.
Urban, R. A., Bakshi, B. R., Techno-Ecological Synergy as a Path Toward Sustainability of a North American Residential System, Env. Sci. Technol., 47, 2985-1993, 2013.
Course schedule and registration times
Class runs 9:00 am - 4:45 pm each day except for Wednesday when it ends at 4:00 pm. Each session is 1.5 hours, except for the final session which is only 45 minutes long. There are 15 minute breaks at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm and 1 hour and 15 minutes for lunch. On the final day lunch will be provided.
Evening activities, including dinner on Tuesday, are included in tuition.
Laptops with the ability to run openLCA are required.
In-house consultant - infrastructure planning, japan international cooperation agency
"The course materials (slides) provided a summary while the textbook provided comprehensive information about the subject. I found both of them very useful and continue to refer to them at work."
membership chair, society of women engineers
"My experience at MIT this summer was fantastic. Taking this class allowed me to get re-energized about the topic of sustainability and to increase my understanding of some technical topics. I look forward to participating in future Short Programs at MIT."
health, safety, environment and security officer, european space agency (ESA)
"I will start using the knowledge gained in order to improve the analysis tools and schemes in place for corporate reporting and environmental project evaluation and management."
operations manager, explorasur s.a.s
"It was a wonderful opportunity to broaden my perspective to the issue of sustainability and lifecycle improvement. I met very interesting people with whom I will communicate in the future to achieve creating knowledge networks in order to develop research projects and continue working about this subject."
owner, wilson biochar associates
"The faculty are wonderful people who clearly care a great deal about the subject matter and are inspired to share it with students. I really loved the dinner we had together and other opportunities for individual conversations. I also liked how they encouraged class participation in discussion and questions. I left with very warm feelings about this class and the faculty. Thank you!"
About the Lecturers
Timothy Gutowski received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Currently he is a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and a member of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP). He was the director of LMP from 1994 to 2004, and the associate department head for mechanical engineering from 2001 to 2005. From 1999 to 2001, he was the chairman of the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy panel on Environmentally Benign Manufacturing. He has over 150 technical publications and seven patents and patent applications. He is the editor of the book Advanced Composites Manufacturing, published by John Wiley in 1997.
Professor Gutowski’s research over the past 15 years has focused on the environmental issues associated with manufacturing including processes, products, and systems. His work on manufacturing processes is extensive, including the analysis (energy and materials) of such processes as machining; grinding, casting, forming and injection molding, advanced machining processes such as abrasive waterjet and electrical discharge machining, semiconductor and MEMS processes, nano-materials manufacturing processes, and other new technologies. In addition, he has worked extensively on recycling processes, systems, and product design for recycling, as well as on product remanufacturing and energy savings. His work also includes the energy payback analysis for new energy systems during growth, and LCA applied to personal life styles called “Environmental Life Style Analysis.”
Bhavik Bakshi received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a minor in technology and environmental policy. Currently, he is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and civil environmental and geodetic engineering at The Ohio State University (OSU). He is also the research director of the Center for Resilience at OSU and a visiting professor at IIT, Bombay. From 2010 to 2012, he was the vice chancellor of TERI University in New Delhi, India. He has published more than 100 articles in areas such as process systems engineering, sustainability, science, and engineering.
Professor Bakshi’s research is developing systematic and scientifically rigorous methods for improving the sustainability and efficiency of engineering activities. This includes new methods for analyzing the life cycle of existing and emerging technologies and for the design of sustainable chemical processes and supply chains. A major focus of his research is on understanding and including the role of ecosystem services in industrial activities. This has resulted in the approach of ecologically-based LCA, which is available at http://resilience.osu.edu/ecolca. He continues to develop new analytic and design methods based on considering synergies and trade-offs between technological and ecological systems. Application of this techno-ecological synergy approach to biofuel life cycles and design of sustainable habitats demonstrates the challenges and opportunities of engineering within ecological constraints as a path toward sustainability.
Dusan Sekulic received his D.Sc. in mechanical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1982. Currently, he is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. He is a fellow of ASME and is a professor at the Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, PR China. He is the author of over 150 refereed research publications, more than a dozen book chapters, and the author of the book Fundamentals of Heat Exchanger Design (jointly with R.K. Shah), published by John Wiley & Sons, USA, in English, and China Machine Press, Beijing, in Chinese. He is the editor of the book Advances in Brazing: Science, Technology and Applications, Woodhead, Cambridge, UK, and editor of the Handbook of Heat Exchanger Design, Begell House, NY, USA.
Professor Sekulic’s research has been on thermodynamics aspects of energy and non-energy producing systems. His work on thermal design of heat exchangers used in these systems is extensive. His focus over the past 10 years has been on materials processing in various manufacturing processes, in particular experimental and theoretical work in the domain of molten metal wetting and spreading for materials processing related to soldering and brazing. His interest involves studies of energy and material flows in large non-energy producing systems, such as in manufacturing, with emphasis on transformational technology selection.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.
Links & Resources
- Calculating the cost of advanced manufacturing - The Environmentally Benign Manufacturing group studies the life cycle of new technologies.
- When is it worth remanufacturing? An MIT study led by Professor Gutowski shows that sometimes it saves energy, and sometimes it doesn’t. May 16, 2011 MIT News.
- A manufacturing renaissance for America?
- Manufacturing inefficiency