Martin L. Green will address the topic of Materials for Sustainable Development which lies at the intersection of materials science, engineering, and sustainability. This topic is characterized by: enormous materials and energy scales (Gigatons and Terajoules); complexity requiring a system-wide approach involving the input of scientists, industrial ecologists, engineers, economists, sociologists, and public policy experts; the use of life cycle assessment (LCA), a core methodology for quantification of energy, material, and water footprints. Because materials are technology-enablers, sustainable development will not be possible without the involvement of the materials science research community.
John Abelson will examine the methods of the Ashby/Granta group, which are utilized to analyze engineering systems in terms of the distinct contributions to the ecological footprint and to indicate where changes in design or materials can afford significant improvement. First, a streamlined LCA is used to determine the relative importance of materials synthesis, manufacturing, transport, operation, and end-of-life phases. Second, materials selection methodologies are modified to include embodied energy, CO2 footprint and water footprint. Third, tradeoff methods are introduced to provide a framework in which system cost and ecological performance can be optimized given the assumed value of the externalities. The results raise key questions: when does a traditional material that can easily be recycled trump an advanced material for which no recycling route exists?
Beginning with the foundation of LCA, the concept of criticality assessment applied to emerging energy technologies will be defined and discussed. The first task is to discuss “emerging” vs. “mature” technologies and how this characteristic evolves in time. Different aspects of supply risk beyond scarcity will be brought into the discussion through examples of regulation and of geopolitical risk (including conflict minerals, international tensions, minerals on tribal lands, and reserves under military control). Alan J. Hurd will illustrate the “Importance” metrics using the DOE Critical Materials Plan and related works, and how these metrics have evolved in time. The tutorial will conclude with careful speculation about the roles of resilience and adaptation in future risk analysis, drawing on the Global Trends 2030 report.