Materials and the Environment

Eco-informed Material Choice


  • Michael Ashby, Professor Emeritus, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

Materials and the Environment: Eco-Informed Material Choice, Second Edition, explores human dependence on materials and its environmental consequences. It provides perspective, background, methods, and data for thinking about and designing with materials to minimize their environmental impact. Organized into 15 chapters, the book looks at the history of our increasing dependence on materials and energy. It first explains where materials come from and how they are used in a variety of industries, along with their life cycle and their relationship to energy and carbon. It then examines controls and economic instruments that hinder the use of engineering materials, considers sustainability from a materials perspective, and highlights the importance of low-carbon power and material efficiency. It also discusses the mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of engineering metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, and natural materials in relation to environmental issues. This book will help students of Engineering and Materials Science, as well as materials scientists or and engineers in analyzing and responding to environmental concerns.
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Students of Engineering, Materials Science and Industrial/Product Design; Materials & Industrial Engineers; Product Designers


Book information

  • Published: March 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-385971-6


"I think this is likely to be a very successful text, since it clearly fills an important niche in engineering texts dealing with materials. I have been quite frustrated with the lack of real data available, when discussing how to design products more responsibly...I especially like the emphasis here on the fact that there are no easy answers."--Blaine Lilly, The Ohio State University

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: material dependence

2. Resource consumption and its drivers

3. The material life cycle

4. End of first life: a problem or a resource?

5. The long reach of legislation

6. Eco-data: values, sources, precision

7. Eco-audits and eco-audit tools

8. Case studies: eco-audits

9. Material selection strategies

10. Eco-informed materials selection

11. Sustainability: living within our means

12. Materials for low-carbon power

13. Material efficiency

14. The bigger picture: future options

15. Material profiles

Appendix-Useful numbers and conversions