Materials and the Environment

Materials and the Environment

Eco-informed Material Choice

2nd Edition - March 28, 2012

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  • Author: Michael Ashby
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123859723

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Materials and the Environment: Eco-Informed Material Choice, Second Edition, is the first book devoted solely to the environmental aspects of materials and their selection, production, use and disposal, by one of the world's foremost materials authorities. It explores human dependence on materials and its environmental consequences and provides perspective, background, methods, and data for thinking about and designing with materials to minimize their environmental impact.Organized into 15 chapters, this new edition looks at the history of our increasing dependence on materials and energy. It 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 also 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. Furthermore, it discusses the mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of engineering metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, and natural materials in relation to environmental issues. The volume includes new chapters on Materials for Low Carbon Power & and Material Efficiency, all illustrated by in-text examples and expanded exercises. There are also new case studies showing how the methods discussed in the book can be applied to real-world situations.This book is intended for instructors and students of Engineering, Materials Science and Industrial/Product Design, as well as for materials engineers and product designers who need to consider the environmental implications of materials in their designs.

Key Features

  • Introduces methods and tools for thinking about and designing with materials within the context of their role in products and the environmental consequences
  • Contains numerous case studies showing how the methods discussed in the book can be applied to real-world situations
  • Includes full-color data sheets for 40 of the most widely used materials, featuring such environmentally relevant information as their annual production and reserves, embodied energy and process energies, carbon footprints, and recycling data

New to this edition:

  • New chapter of Case Studies of Eco-audits illustrating the rapid audit method
  • New chapter on Materials for Low Carbon Power examines the consequences for materials supply of a major shift from fossil-fuel based power to power from renewables
  • New chapter exploring Material Efficiency, or design and management for manufacture to provide the services we need with the least production of materials
  • Recent news-clips from the world press that help place materials issues into a broader context.are incorporated into all chapters
  • End-of-chapter exercises have been greatly expanded
  • The datasheets of Chapter 15 have been updated and expanded to include natural and man-made fibers


Students of Engineering, Materials Science and Industrial/Product Design; Materials & Industrial Engineers; Product Designers

Table of Contents

  • Preface and acknowledgments

    1. Introduction
    1.1 Introduction and synopsis
    1.2 Materials: a brief history
    1.3 Learned dependency: the reliance on nonrenewable materials
    1.4 Materials and the environment
    1.5 Summary and conclusions
    1.6 Further reading
    1.7 Exercises

    2. Resource consumption and its drivers
    2.1 Introduction and synopsis
    2.2 Where do materials come from?
    2.3 Resource consumption
    2.4 Exponential growth and doubling times
    2.5 Reserves, the resource base, and resource life
    2.6 The materials-energy-carbon triangle
    2.7 Summary and conclusions
    2.8 Further reading
    2.9 Exercises

    3. The material life cycle
    3.1 Introduction and synopsis
    3.2 The design process
    3.3 The materials life cycle
    3.4 Life-cycle assessment: details and difficulties
    3.5 Streamlined LCA and eco-auditing
    3.6 The strategy
    3.7 Summary and conclusions
    3.8 Further reading
    3.9 Appendix: software for LCA
    3.10 Exercises

    4. End of first life
    4.1 Introduction and synopsis
    4.2 What determines product life?
    4.3 End-of-first-life options
    4.4 The problem of packaging
    4.5 Recycling—resurrecting materials
    4.6 Summary and conclusions
    4.7 Further reading
    4.8 Appendix: designations used in recycle marks
    4.9 Exercises

    5. The long reach of legislation
    5.1 Introduction and synopsis
    5.2 Growing awareness and legislative response
    5.3 International treaties, protocols, and conventions
    5.4 National legislation: standards and directives
    5.5 Economic instruments: taxes, subsidies, and trading schemes
    5.6 The consequences
    5.7 Summary and conclusions
    5.8 Further reading
    5.9 Exercises

    6. Eco-data
    6.1 Introduction and synopsis
    6.2 Data precision: recalibrating expectations
    6.3 The eco-attributes of materials
    6.4 Energy and CO2 footprints of energy, transport, and use
    6.5 Exploring the data: property charts
    6.6 Summary and conclusions
    6.7 Further reading
    6.8 Exercises

    7. Eco-audits and eco-audit tools
    7.1 Introduction and synopsis
    7.2 Eco-audits
    7.3 Computer-aided eco-auditing
    7.4 Summary and conclusions
    7.5 Further reading
    7.6 Appendix: eco-audit tools
    7.7 Exercises

    8. Case studies
    8.1 Introduction and synopsis
    8.2 Reusable and disposable cups Further reading
    8.3 Grocery bags Further reading
    8.4 An electric kettle
    8.5 A coffee maker
    8.6 An A-rated washing machine Further reading
    8.7 Ricoh imagio MF6550 copier Further reading
    8.8 A portable space heater
    8.9 Ceramic pottery kilns
    8.10 Auto bumpers—exploring substitution
    8.11 Family car—comparing material energy with use energy Further reading
    8.12 Computer-assisted audits: a hair dryer
    8.13 Summary and conclusions
    8.14 Exercises Exercises using the CES eco-audit tool

    9. Material selection strategies
    9.1 Introduction and synopsis
    9.2 The selection strategy: choosing a car
    9.3 Principles of materials selection
    9.4 Selection criteria and property charts
    9.5 Using indices for scaling
    9.6 Resolving conflicting objectives: trade-off methods
    9.7 Seven useful charts
    9.8 Computer-aided selection
    9.9 Summary and conclusions
    9.10 Further reading
    9.11 Appendix: deriving material indices
    9.12 Exercises Exercises using CES Edu Level 2 Eco

    10. Eco-informed materials selection
    10.1 Introduction and synopsis
    10.2 Which bottle is best? Selection per unit of function
    10.3 Systematic eco-selection: carbonated-water bottles
    10.4 Structural materials for buildings
    10.5 Initial and recurring embodied energy of buildings
    10.6 Heating and cooling (1): refrigeration
    10.7 Heating and cooling (2): materials for passive solar heating
    10.8 Heating and cooling (3): kilns and cyclic heating
    10.9 Transportation (1): introduction
    10.10 Transportation (2): crash barriers—matching material to purpose
    10.11 Transportation (3): materials for light weight structures
    10.12 Transportation (4): material substitution for eco-efficient design
    10.13 Summary and conclusions
    10.14 Further reading
    10.15 Exercises Exercises using the CES Edu software

    11. Sustainability
    11.1 Introduction and synopsis
    11.2 The concept of sustainable development
    11.3 The ecological metaphor
    11.4 Material sustainability
    11.5 Renewable materials
    11.6 Bio-derived materials
    11.7 Summary and conclusions
    11.8 Further reading
    11.9 Exercises

    12. Materials for low-carbon power
    12.1 Introduction and synopsis
    12.2 The resource intensity of power sources—the big picture
    12.3 Conventional fossil-fuel power: gas and coal
    12.4 Nuclear power
    12.5 Solar energy: thermal, thermoelectric, and photovoltaics
    12.6 Fuel cells
    12.7 Wind power
    12.8 Hydropower
    12.9 Wave power
    12.10 Tidal power
    12.11 Geothermal power
    12.12 Biomass
    12.13 Summary and conclusions
    12.14 Further reading
    12.15 Appendix 1: Definitions of properties
    12.16 Appendix 2: Approximate material intensities for power systems
    12.17 Exercises

    13. Material efficiency
    13.1 Introduction and synopsis
    13.2 What is the point of materials efficiency?
    13.3 Increasing material efficiency (1): engineering solutions
    13.4 Increasing material efficiency (2): legislation and social change
    13.5 What makes material efficiency difficult?
    13.6 Mechanisms to promote material efficiency
    13.7 Summary and conclusions
    13.8 Further reading
    13.9 Exercises

    14. The bigger picture
    14.1 Introduction and synopsis
    14.2 Material value
    14.3 Carbon, energy, and GDP
    14.4 Does GDP measure national wealth?
    14.5 Forces for change: threats
    14.6 Opportunities
    14.7 Summary and conclusions
    14.8 Further reading
    14.9 Exercises

    15. Material profiles
    15.1 Introduction and synopsis
    15.2 Metals and alloys
    15.3 Polymers
    15.4 Ceramics and glasses
    15.5 Hybrids: composites, foams, wood, and paper
    15.6 Man-made and natural fibers

    APPENDIX. Useful numbers and conversions
    A.1 Introduction
    A.2 Physical constants in SI units
    A.3 Conversion of units, general
    A.4 Stress and pressure
    A.5 Energy and power
    A.6 Fuels
    A.7 Energy prices (2011 data)
    A.8 Further reading Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 628
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Butterworth-Heinemann 2012
  • Published: March 28, 2012
  • Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123859723

About the Author

Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby
Mike Ashby is one of the world’s foremost authorities on materials selection. He is sole or lead author of several of Elsevier’s top selling engineering textbooks, including Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design, Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, Materials and the Environment, Materials and Sustainable Development, and Materials: Engineering, Science, Processing and Design. He is also co-author of the books Engineering Materials 1&2, and Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design.

Affiliations and Expertise

Royal Society Research Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge, and Former Visiting Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art, London, UK

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