Monday, 23 June 2014

New course on industrial ecology: sustainable materials (ENBUS 409 / SUSM 675 - fall term 2014)

Updated. Original post 10 Feb 2014. Now taught as ENBUS 406.

A new course on sustainable materials will be offered at the University of Waterloo by Prof. Steven B. Young, PhD, PEng starting September 2014. To be delivered in both undergraduate and graduate versions, the content supports the growing interest by students -- and employers -- in industrial ecology.

Undergraduate students in the SEED program Environment and Business (ENBUS) and graduate students in SEED -- Sustainability Management (SUSM), Master of Environment and Business (MEB), Master of Development Practice (MDP); and in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering (MME), and Chemical Engineering (CHE), and other disciplines are encouraged to enroll.

ENBUS 409 (undergrad) / SUSM 675 (grad)
Proposed calendar description: Sustainability of industrial materials is examined, including resources, production, use and end-of-life. Industrial ecology and management approaches are presented to restructure systems and support sustainable development. Major types and applications (buildings, transportation, communications, etc.) of different industrial materials (metals, plastics, etc.) are covered.
No prerequisite, open to higher level undergraduate and graduate students. Open to students outside Envrionment and Business.

Note to EBs: ENBUS 409 is a designation in the program for a ‘special topics’ course, intended for one-off and newly developed courses. Students may take ENBUS 409 up to three times. My hope is to repeat this topic on Industrial ecology: sustainable materials as its own course number in the future.

Scheduled: Friday 8:30-11:30, HH 1102  (I had it moved from Friday afternoons!)


The outline is being developed and the course will rely on two textbooks:

Graduate students will also be referred to this textbook:

  • Michael F. Ashby (2012). Materials and the Environment, Second Edition: Eco-informed Material Choice. 

  • Course outline

    Preliminary course outline. Subject to change. 12 weeks, each lecture is 3 hours.

    • Introduction
      • Industry, tools, issues
      • Resources, elements, materials, components, products, systems
      • Process and life-cycle framework
    • Packaging
      • why packaging uses so many materials
      • are they consumed, trashed or recycled?
    • Environmental and sustainability classifications
      • Renewable "versus" non-renewable resources
      • Technical & biological cycles (McDonough Braungart 2002)
      • Types of materials 
        • the big 4 (Allwood and Cullen)
        • Structural materials: Basic properties – strength density stiffness
        • Functional materials: Functional vs structural
      • Life cycles & resource efficiency
        • Readings: Allwood 2013, Ashby
        • Basics of the life-cycle: four types (Young 1996)
        • Material efficiency (FWI 2001)
      • Tools for analysis and mapping (MFA, LCA, etc.)
        • Reading: Resource flows – WRI 1997, Allwood and Cullen 2012
        • Guest on MFA

      • Building and green building materials
        • Guest on green buildings
        • LEED criteria, etc
        • READ: Allwood & Cullen, Athena
      • Automobiles & transportation - lighter and more complex
        • Lightweighting strategies for future mobility
        • Materials in electric vehicles and energy technologies
        • Auto recycling
      • Technology materials - will we run out? (No!)
        • Rare earth elements, indium, tantalum, etc.
        • 3TG conflict minerals & certification programs
        • Guest on critical materials
        • Read – Ashby energy chapter, Bloodworth, Graedel
      • Novel materials: biobased, nano, etc.
        • Why biodegradability is a crock, but biobased fibres are fun
        • Nano materials - phish or fact
      • Circular economy – global vision or communist plot?
        • A bigger picture
        • Reading: Julie Hill 

      Course assessments

      Short-answer quizzes
      Term paper on a material or area of your choice - structured research paper