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1 Sustainable Nanotechnology: Need to Consider the Role of Ecosystem Services in LCA Bhavik R. Bakshi Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Sustainable Nanotechnology: Need to Consider the Role of Ecosystem Services in LCA Bhavik R. Bakshi Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Sustainable Nanotechnology: Need to Consider the Role of Ecosystem Services in LCA Bhavik R. Bakshi Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210

2 Motivation for LCA  Avoid the unpleasant surprises due to technology Systems view Broad analysis boundary  Expected to guide selection and design of technological alternatives  Commonly expected to encourage sustainable development  Unfortunately, current LCA need not encourage sustainability Economic rebound effect Using a boundary that is not broad enough

3 Ecosystem Services & Sustainability  Ecosystem goods and services (Natural Capital) are essential for sustainability  Decisions to encourage sustainability must consider role of ecosystem services Natural Capital Economic Products & Services Ecosystem Economy Sun

4 4 Types of Ecosystem Services Regulating Benefits obtained from regulation of ecosystem processes climate regulation disease regulation flood regulation detoxification Provisioning Goods produced or provided by ecosystems food fresh water fuel wood fiber biochemicals genetic resources Cultural Non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems spiritual recreational aesthetic inspirational educational symbolic Supporting Services necessary for production of other ecosystem services Soil formation Nutrient cycling Primary production

5 Status of Ecosystem Services  Millennium Ecosystem Assessment “… assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being… … the MA involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Their findings provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, … … as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.”  Many ecosystem goods and services are highly degraded 

6 LCA and Ecosystem Services  LCA accounts for some provisioning services, but ignores the rest  Decisions based on LCA can be perverse An alternative with smaller life cycle impact may be less sustainable due to greater reliance on scarce ecosystem services  None of the existing life cycle oriented methods account for ecosystem services Zhang, Singh and Bakshi, Env. Sci. Technol., 2009

7 7 LCA of Polymer Nanocomposite Cars  Potential savings if automotive steel is replaced by polymer nanocomposites  Approach identifies new engineering opportunities CNF: 0.6 v/v CNF: 2.3 v/v CNF: 1 v/v CNF: 3.4 v/v CNF: 2.4 v/v PP-GF-CNF UPR-CNF UPR-GF-CNF Khanna, Bakshi, Env. Sci. Technol, 2009

8 LCA of CNF Reinforced Windmills  CNF in windmill blades can enhance their strength to weight ratio Permit larger blades Increase electricity generation  LCA indicates that with current technology, Energy ROI does not improve  Increasing efficiency in making CNF and polymer nanocomposites may make the life cycle more attractive Merugula and Bakshi, AIChE Conference, 2009

9 Ecosystem Services and Nanotechnology  Life cycle of nanotechnologies may rely on scarce ecosystem services  Provisioning Fossil fuels and minerals Water  Regulating Air quality regulation Climate & Water regulation Waste processing  Supporting Primary production Water cycling Most of these services are already stressed

10 Ecologically-Based LCA  PROVISIONING SERVICES Fuels  Crude Oil; Natural gas; Coal; Nuclear fuel Ores  Iron; Copper; Silver; Zinc and lead; Gold; Other metallic ores Non-metallic  Minerals; Crushed stone; Sand Water  Irrigation water  Thermoelectric power generation water  Public Supply Water Primary production  Fish & related species  Wood  Grass Land  Cropland; Rangeland and pasture; Timber  SUPPORTING SERVICES Mineralization  Nitrogen, Phosphorus Soil  Nitrogen deposition from atmosphere; Detrital matter; erosion  Farm, Timber, Ranch * Work In Progress Pollination Sunlight Hydropotential Geothermal Wind  REGULATING SERVICES Carbon Sequestration  Forest, Farm, Ranch  Soil  Ocean* Air Quality* Water Regulation* Climate Regulation* Disease Regulation* Pest Regulation* Zhang, Baral, Bakshi, Env. Sci. Technol., 2009 Singh, Bakshi, 2009

11 Eco-LCA of Corn Ethanol vs. Gasoline  Scenario: All corn is used for fuel Meets 12% of total U.S. fuel demand  Graph shows % of U.S resource consumption  Indicates vulnerability to resources Gasoline is vulnerable to crude oil depletion Corn ethanol to land use and availability of fertile soil Crude oil Detrital matter Water CroplandCO2 uptake Soil Erosion

12 Aggregate Metrics  Thermodynamic accounting of ecosystem services helps in identifying key resources and services  Also performs traditional analysis (e.g. net energy) Corn ethanol GasolineBiodieselDiesel Baral & Bakshi, 2008 Soil Erosion Crude Oil Stone Nonmetallic minerals Natural Gas

13 Vulnerability to loss of Ecosystem Service Identifying Critical Supporting Services  Air quality regulating service looks most critical since LC intensity and vulnerability are both high

14 Summary  Sustainability relies on ecosystem services  Current life cycle oriented methods ignore most ecosystem services  For LCA to point toward sustainability, accounting for ecosystem services is essential, particularly for emerging technologies  Eco-LCA is a step in this direction


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