Publication Details (including relevant citation information):
Singh, L.C. (2010). Design constraints for environmental sustainability: assessing the 'real potential' of technical innovations that transform carbon dioxide into useful materials. Poster presented at the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference in Industrial Ecology, 10-16 July 2010. Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH, USA.
In light of both its dwindling resources and its role as the largest anthropogenic greenhouse gas contributor, the need for industrial innovation away from traditional petroleum-based energy and feedstock sources has shifted focus to the possible utilization of carbon dioxide – a wasted resource – as a C1 source within the chemical industry. Many reactions that transform carbon dioxide into useful materials have been proposed, and a few even have been commercialized. Usually however, the real values of such projects do not consider the total impact that project implementation might impose over all other aspects of its life cycle; stages such as raw material acquisition and/or after-life handling are often overlooked.
In this paper, the potential to be derived from transforming carbon dioxide into useful materials is re-evaluated to include the total impacts – positive and negative – that might be exerted upon society. Using a combination of life cycle assessment (LCA) and impact assessment (IA) therefore, the ‘real potential’ of these innovations will be presented as a sum of both the private benefits to be had from their implementation as well as the actual impacts that they might have on the environment and its sustainability. It is expected that only after such an evaluation can the true value of a project, and hence its opportunity costs of implementation, be determined.
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