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University of Cambridge

Materials and the environment

environmentally informed material choice
Mike Ashby, CUED, October 2005

Exponential growth and consequences

At a growth rate of 3% per year, the quantity of a given resource we will consume in the next 23 years is equal to the total consumed over all previous time

With acknowledgements (never enough) to Ulrike Wegst Andrew Miller Fiona Rutter Hugh Shercliff Tracy Chen David Pearce
Engineering Dept, Cambridge and Granta Design, Cambridge Message:

Consumption C = C0 exp (t - t0) Start of industrial revolution

Present day


Quantity consumed up to present day, Qo

Quantity consumed in next 23 years, Q Time t

300 years 23 years IF: Current material consumption exerts stress on the environment THEN: Future growth depends on design that reduces stress/unit of production

Mike Ashby, October 2005

The material life cycle

Energy Materials Transport Manufacture, delivery

Life cycle assessment

Typical LCA output:

Product use

Energy consumption Water consumption Emission of CO2, NOx, SOx etc Particulates Toxic residues More . Roll up into eco-indicator ??

Earths resources

Material production

What is a designer supposed to do with these figures? Full LCA very time consuming, expensive, requires great detail and even then is subject to uncertainty 80% of environmental cost determined at design stage when many decisions still fluid

CO2, CO NOx, SOx

Product disposal

particulates, toxic waste

How assess How assess stressors over stressors over entire life? entire life? LCA LCA
Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Streamline LCA (1)

Step 1: select single measure of stress Kyoto Protocol (1997): international agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses
Practical solution: use CO2 or Energy

Eco-materials audit of products

A draft EU directive 2003/0172 (COD): On establishing a framework for the setting of Eco-design requirements for Energy-Using Products (EuPs) is currently before the European Parliament.

Use energy:


Some appliances

Manufactures of EuPs must demonstrate that they have considered the use of materials and energy of their products raw material selection and use for: Materials Manufacture Packaging, transport and distribution Use End of life

Official fuel economy figures: Combined: 6 11 litre / 100km CO2 emissions: 158 276 g / km

Energy efficiency: Volume 0.3 m3: 330 kWhr / year

For each phase, the consumption of materials and energy shall be assessed. Steps to minimise these shall be identified and the cost implications explored.
Mike Ashby, October 2005 Mike Ashby, October 2005

Streamline LCA (2)

Step 2: Seek method that combines acceptable cost burden with adequate accuracy to guide decision making Increasing detail, cost and time Ecoscreening Streamline LCA (Complete LCA)

Big pircture: energy consumption of products

Which phase dominates? Approximate breakdown (Bey, 2000):

Assess contributions of each phase of life Distinguish sub-systems (components) Focus on main components; ignore small contributions Precise conclusions can be drawn from imprecise data
Interested in relative magnitudes

BUT maintenance?

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Drink container

CES Edu record for PE

Polyethylene (PE) - (CH2-CH2-)n

PE body PP cap 38 g 5g

Transport, MJ / / Transport, MJ

Sea freight Sea freight Barge (river) Barge (river) Rail freight Rail freight Truck Truck Air freight Air freight 0.11 0.11 0.83 0.83 0.86 0.86 0.9 1.5 0.9 1.5 8.3 15 8.3 15

General Properties
Density Price 939 1.3 960 kg/m3 1.45 US $/kg

PE body moulded PP cap moulded 38 g 5g

Mechanical Properties
Young's Modulus Elastic Limit Tensile Strength Elongation Hardness - Vickers Fracture Toughness 0.6 17.9 20 200 5.4 1.4 0.9 29 45 800 8.7 1.7 GPa MPa MPa % HV MPa.m1/2

Eco-properties: production
Production energy Carbon dioxide Recycle ? 77 1.9 85 MJ/kg 2.2 kg/kg

Refrigeration Transport 5 days 200 km

Refrigeration, MJ / / Refrigeration, MJ

Refrigeration (4oC) Refrigeration (4oC) Freezing (-5oC) Freezing (-5oC) 10.5 10.5 13.0 13.0

Thermal Properties
Max Service Temp 100 Thermal Expansion 126 Specific Heat 1810 Thermal Conductivity0.4 120 198 1880 0.44 C 10-6/K J/kg.K W/m.K

Eco-properties: manufacture
Injection / blow moulding 12 - 15 MJ/kg Polymer extrusion 3 - 5 MJ/kg

Transport Recycling ? 100 km Yes

Electrical Properties
Resistivity Dielectric constant 3 x 10222.2 3 x 1024 .cm 2.4

Environmental notes. PE is FDA compliant indeed it is so non-toxic that it can be embedded in the human body (heart valves, hip-joint cups, artificial artery).
Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Eco DB: eco-data for PE

Material: Medium density PE (branched homopolymer)
Production energy and emissions
Production Energy Carbon Dioxide Nitrogen Oxides Sulphur Oxides 84 2.2 11.4 8.6 93 2.4 12.6 9.5 MJ/kg kg/kg g/kg g/kg

Energy breakdown for PE bottle

Eco Indicator EPS value 340 722 380 798 millipoints / kg

Manufacture at 30% efficiency

Min. Energy to Melt 2.8 - 3.1 MJ/kg

End of life
Recycle Downcycle Biodegrade Incinerate Landfill Recycling Energy Recycle fraction of current supply

35 3

40 4

MJ/kg %

Toxicity rating FDA approved (skin & food contact) WEEE prohibited material Non-toxic

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Typical small energy-using product (EuP)

The hairdryer The sub-systems

Fast assessment: spread sheet

Materials and approximate quantities Power and duty cycle Transport distance and mode

Retrieve from database:

Energy for material production / kg Energy for manufacture / kg

Materials and manufacture

ABS Injection moulded Nylon Injection moulded Copper Drawn Iron Rolled Nichrome Drawn Alnico PM methods PVC Moulded Muscovite Pressed 180 g 80 g 20 g 40 g 7 g 22 g 13 g 18 g

10,000 km, sea or air

Transport energy
Sea freight Air freight 0.1 MJ / 9 MJ /

Heater Fan 1.7 kW 0.15 kW

Duty cycle
5 mins per day, 300 days/year, 3 years
Mike Ashby, October 2005 Mike Ashby, October 2005

Energy breakdown for hairdryer

Begins to meet EU directive

Strategy for material selection

Assess energy use over life
Production Use Disposal Energy Manufacture

Then consider:

Transport (air freight)



Minimize: weight heat loss electrical loss and thus (energy consumption)


energy/kg or CO2/kg
times mass of components

process energy/kg CO2/kg

times mass of components

recyclable non- toxic materials

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Material choice depends on function and system

Mobile barrier Static barrier

Selection for the static barrier using CES

Bending strength per unit energy
The selection The selection Carbon steel Carbon steel Cast iron Cast iron Mild steel Mild steel


Absorb impact, transmit load to energy-absorbing units or supports


Dominant phase of life



Criterion Selected materials

Bending strength per unit material energy Cast iron, steel

Bending strength per unit mass CFRP, Ti-alloy, Al-alloy

Mike Ashby, October 2005 Mike Ashby, October 2005

Selection for the mobile barrier using CES

Bending strength per unit mass
The selection The selection CFRP CFRP GFRP GFRP Mg alloys Mg alloys Ti alloys Ti alloys Al alloys Al alloys Nylon Nylon

System dependence: auto power train

Hybrid Diesel
limited Litres/km = A (Kerbweight)1.1 Rolling / air drag

Petrol Petrol

APetrol = 3 - 5 x 10-5 ADiesel = 2 x 10-5

Weight-limited AHybrid = 1.1 x 10-5

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

System change
The sub-systems

Energy breakdown for hairdryer

With ioniser

The ioniser Power

Gas discharge > 0.01 kW

The claim:
Reduces drying time by half

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005

The main points

Streamline LCA gives quick portrait of energy / CO2 burden of products Separate the life-phases Material Manufacture Use Disposal Base material choice on relative contributions to stress Consider system dependence Refine within one concept Explore alternative concepts

End of Unit 6

Mike Ashby, October 2005

Mike Ashby, October 2005