Barbara K. Reck

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

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Publications (22)113.56 Total impact

  • T. E. Graedel · E. M. Harper · N. T. Nassar · Philip Nuss · Barbara K. Reck
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    ABSTRACT: Imbalances between metal supply and demand, real or anticipated, have inspired the concept of metal criticality. We here characterize the criticality of 62 metals and metalloids in a 3D “criticality space” consisting of supply risk, environmental implications, and vulnerability to supply restriction. Contributing factors that lead to extreme values include high geopolitical concentration of primary production, lack of available suitable substitutes, and political instability. The results show that the limitations for many metals important in emerging electronics (e.g., gallium and selenium) are largely those related to supply risk; those of platinum group metals, gold, and mercury, to environmental implications; and steel alloying elements (e.g., chromium and niobium) as well as elements used in high-temperature alloys (e.g., tungsten and molybdenum), to vulnerability to supply restriction. The metals of most concern tend to be those available largely or entirely as byproducts, used in small quantitie
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2015; 112(14). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1500415112 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    Luca Ciacci · Barbara K. Reck · N. T. Nassar · T. E. Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: In some common uses metals are lost by intent - copper in brake pads, zinc in tires, and germanium in retained catalyst applications being examples. In other common uses, metals are incorporated into products in ways for which no viable recycling approaches exist - examples include selenium in colored glass and vanadium in pigments. To determine quantitatively the scope of these "losses by design", we have assessed the major uses of 56 metals and metalloids, assigning each use to one of three categories: in-use dissipation, currently unrecyclable when discarded, or potentially recyclable when discarded. In-use dissipation affects fewer than a dozen elements (including mercury and arsenic), but the spectrum of elements dissipated increases rapidly if applications from which they are currently unrecyclable are considered. In many cases the resulting dissipation rates are higher than 50%. Among others, specialty metals (e.g., gallium, indium, and thallium) and some heavy rare earth elements are representative of modern technology, and their loss provides a measure of the degree of unsustainability in the contemporary use of materials and products. Even where uses are currently compatible with recycling technologies and approaches, end of life recycling rates are in most cases well below those that are potentially achievable. The outcomes of this research provide guidance in identifying product design approaches for reducing material losses so as to increase element recovery at end-of-life.
    Environmental Science and Technology 02/2015; 49(16). DOI:10.1021/es505515z · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of this project is to determine the reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the recycling of aerospace alloys. This study is based on an aerospace recycler that sells much of its high-performance alloy scrap directly to remelters that produce these alloys for aircraft engine component manufacturers, with significant potential environmental benefits arising from the substitution of recycled materials for virgin materials. The project team explored existing sources of environmental data for all of the metals that make up aerospace alloys, and ten common alloys were chosen as case studies. Certain metal elements, including niobium, rhenium, tungsten, and zirconium, did not have any robust environmental impact information, and for these GHG emissions factors from primary production were modeled using a variety of statistical and industrial data sources. The project team then investigated the forms of metal inputs into alloying operations to ensure that the model reflects actual industrial practices and that the alloy scrap substitutes for virgin materials. GHG emissions are also incurred through alloy scrap collection and processing, and so a carbon footprint was performed for alloy recycling operations in order to determine these burdens. Overall, the recycling of aerospace alloys for reuse in the aerospace industry represents significant reductions in GHG emissions for each of the ten alloys considered, while emissions associated with collection and processing are <5% in comparison. Certain elements occur in small quantities in aerospace alloys, such as rhenium (Re) and tantalum (Ta), but due to their high carbon intensity they significantly influence the final results.
    Journal of Cleaner Production 10/2014; 80:38–45. DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.05.039 · 3.84 Impact Factor
  • Philip Nuss · E M Harper · N T Nassar · Barbara K Reck · T E Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: Because modern technology depends on reliable supplies of a wide variety of materials and because of increasing concern about those supplies, a comprehensive methodology was created to quantify the degree of criticality of the metals of the periodic table. In this paper, we apply this methodology to iron and several of its main alloying elements (i.e., vanadium, chromium, manganese, and niobium). These elements represent the basic metals of any industrial society and are vital for national security and economic well-being. Assessments relating to the dimensions of criticality - supply risk, vulnerability to supply restriction, and environmental implications - for 2008 are made on the global level and for the United States. Evaluations of each of the multiple indicators are presented, with aggregate results plotted in "criticality space", together with Monte Carlo simulation-derived "uncertainty cloud" estimates. Iron has the lowest supply risk, primarily because of its widespread geological occurrence. Vanadium displays the highest cradle-to-gate environmental implications, followed by niobium, chromium, manganese, and iron. Chromium and manganese, both essential in steel making, display the highest vulnerability to supply restriction, largely because substitution or substitution at equal performance is not possible for all end-uses. From a comprehensive perspective, we regard the overall criticality as low for iron and modest for the alloying elements we evaluated.
    Environmental Science & Technology 03/2014; 48(7):4171-4177. DOI:10.1021/es405044w · 5.48 Impact Factor
  • T E Graedel · E M Harper · N T Nassar · Barbara K Reck
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    ABSTRACT: It is indisputable that modern life is enabled by the use of materials in its technologies. Those technologies do many things very well, largely because each material is used for purposes to which it is exquisitely fitted. The result over time has been a steady increase in product performance. We show that this materials complexity has markedly increased in the past half-century and that elemental life cycle analyses characterize rates of recycling and loss. A further concern is that of possible scarcity of some of the elements as their use increases. Should materials availability constraints occur, the use of substitute materials comes to mind. We studied substitution potential by generating a comprehensive summary of potential substitutes for 62 different metals in all their major uses and of the performance of the substitutes in those applications. As we show herein, for a dozen different metals, the potential substitutes for their major uses are either inadequate or appear not to exist at all. Further, for not 1 of the 62 metals are exemplary substitutes available for all major uses. This situation largely decouples materials substitution from price, thereby forcing material design changes to be primarily transformative rather than incremental. As wealth and population increase worldwide in the next few decades, scientists will be increasingly challenged to maintain and improve product utility by designing new and better materials, but doing so under potential constraints in resource availability.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; 112(20). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1312752110 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    Barbara K Reck · T E Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: Metals are infinitely recyclable in principle, but in practice, recycling is often inefficient or essentially nonexistent because of limits imposed by social behavior, product design, recycling technologies, and the thermodynamics of separation. We review these topics, distinguishing among common, specialty, and precious metals. The most beneficial actions that could improve recycling rates are increased collection rates of discarded products, improved design for recycling, and the enhanced deployment of modern recycling methodology. As a global society, we are currently far away from a closed-loop material system. Much improvement is possible, but limitations of many kinds--not all of them technological--will preclude complete closure of the materials cycle.
    Science 08/2012; 337(6095):690-5. DOI:10.1126/science.1217501 · 31.48 Impact Factor
  • Barbara K. Reck · Vera Susanne Rotter
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    ABSTRACT: This study introduces the 2005 life cycle data for nickel in 50 countries and presents a comparative analysis of the 2000 and 2005 nickel and stainless steel cycles for these countries. The life cycles of the two metals are linked by nickel's role as a major alloying element in most stainless steels. Between 2000 and 2005, the global use of both metals grew, driven by China's extraordinary growth and despite the fact that many industrialized countries decreased their metal use during that time. China's and India's growth of stainless steel use was greater than that of nickel use, a result of price-driven substitution away from nickel-containing stainless steels. The intensity of use (IU) in industrialized countries is about 30 to 50 kilograms (kg) nickel/million U.S. dollars (USD), and 300 to 500 kg stainless steel/million USD. High-income countries decreased their IU of both metals between 2000 and 2005, while low- and medium-income countries increased their IU of stainless steel. At the per capita level, average industrialized countries use about 1 kg of nickel and 11 kg of stainless steel. Were China's and India's projected urban areas in 2025 to use similar amounts of the two metals, they alone would require the equivalent of global nickel production in 2000, and 200% of the world's stainless steel production in 2005. In China, substantial nickel and stainless steel end-of-life flows will arise between 2015 and 2020, and efficient collection and separation systems should be prepared now to maximize the potential environmental and resource benefits of recycling
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 06/2012; 16(4):518-528. DOI:10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00499.x · 2.71 Impact Factor
  • Matthew J. Eckelman · Barbara K. Reck · T. E. Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: Markov chain (MC) modeling is a versatile tool in policy analysis and has been applied in several forms to analyze resource flows. This article builds on previous discussions of the relationship among absorbing Markov chains (AMCs), material flow analysis (MFA), and input‐output (IO) analysis, and presents a full‐scale application of MC modeling for a particular globally relevant, nonrenewable resource, namely nickel. The MC model presented here is built on comprehensive, recently compiled nickel flow data for 52 geographic regions. Considering all possible cycles of recycling and reuse, nickel extracted in 2005 is estimated to have a technological lifetime of 73 ± 7 years. During its global journey, nickel enters use, for some application somewhere in the world, an average of three times, the largest share of which occurs in China. Nickel entering fabrication in 2005 is estimated to enter use approximately four times. Over time, nickel is lost to the environment and as a tramp element in carbon steel; the final distribution of nickel among these absorbing states is 78% and 22%, respectively. Of all the nickel in ore extracted in 2005, fully 28% will eventually end up in the tailings, slag, and landfills of China. MC results are also combined with geographically specific life cycle inventory data to determine the overall energy invested in nickel during its many cycles of use. MCs provide a powerful tool for tracking resources through the network of global production, use, and waste management, and opportunities for further integration with other modeling efforts are also discussed.
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 06/2012; 16(3). DOI:10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00425.x · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The recycling of metals is widely viewed as a fruitful sustainability strategy, but little information is available on the degree to which recycling is actually taking place. This article provides an overview on the current knowledge of recycling rates for 60 metals. We propose various recycling metrics, discuss relevant aspects of recycling processes, and present current estimates on global end‐of‐life recycling rates (EOL‐RR; i.e., the percentage of a metal in discards that is actually recycled), recycled content (RC), and old scrap ratios (OSRs; i.e., the share of old scrap in the total scrap flow). Because of increases in metal use over time and long metal in‐use lifetimes, many RC values are low and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Because of relatively low efficiencies in the collection and processing of most discarded products, inherent limitations in recycling processes, and the fact that primary material is often relatively abundant and low‐cost (which thereby keeps down the price of scrap), many EOL‐RRs are very low: Only for 18 metals (silver, aluminum, gold, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, niobium, nickel, lead, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, tin, titanium, and zinc) is the EOL‐RR above 50% at present. Only for niobium, lead, and ruthenium is the RC above 50%, although 16 metals are in the 25% to 50% range. Thirteen metals have an OSR greater than 50%. These estimates may be used in considerations of whether recycling efficiencies can be improved; which metric could best encourage improved effectiveness in recycling; and an improved understanding of the dependence of recycling on economics, technology, and other factors.
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 06/2011; 15(3). DOI:10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00342.x · 2.71 Impact Factor
  • Masaaki Fuse · Eiji Yamasue · Barbara K. Reck · T.E. Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines Japanese resource outflows in the form of exported used (and functional) products in 2007 by quantifying the unintentional metal exports for a number of specialty metals typically used in electronics and electrical equipment. We find that more than half of the indium and 20-30% of the barium, lead, antimony, strontium, zirconium, silver, gold, and tin in domestically discarded products were not recycled in Japan, but rather were exported in products to be used elsewhere. The destinations of these metals were mainly Asian countries with rudimentary recycling technology. These results demonstrate that although these metals could have been stockpiled domestically for future recovery and recycling, they were instead sent to countries where recycling of these scarce metals is unlikely. From a resource perspective, therefore, the free trade of used Japanese products compromises long-term domestic resource availability as it increases the quality of life in developing countries.
    Ecological Economics 02/2011; 70(4):788-797. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.11.017 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To reduce the amount of materials that are extracted from and emitted to the environment, reutilization and long-term use within our socio-economic system are important goals. From this perspective, the average number of times a material comes into use and the total average lifetime of a material are useful indicators for measuring the status of our material use. In general, multiple uses and long lifetime indicate effective and efficient material use. In this article, we estimate these usage and lifetime indicators for stainless steel (SS) for the Japanese socio-economic system and discuss the meanings of these indicators given its main alloying elements. The following conclusions are drawn: (1) Based on Japanese SS use in 2005, SS is estimated to be used 1.9–4.3 times in average over its entire life cycle depending on possible low and high collection rate scenarios of SS obsolete scrap. SS is estimated to be used for 19–100 years in average over its entire life cycle, under the low collection rate and short product lifetime (LCR&SPL) to high collection rate and long product lifetime (HCR&LPL) scenarios. (2) Some SS scrap is used for carbon and other alloyed steels (COAS) production. Although SS scrap that is recycled within COAS cycles no longer functions as SS, iron contained in SS does serve a function in COAS products, considering an elemental interpretation. Iron contained in SS is estimated to be used 3.2–6.8 times and for 56–170 years in average over its entire life cycle, under the LCR&SPL to HCR&LPL scenarios. (3) From the viewpoint of sustainable material use, estimated total average lifetime of SS is not considered to be satisfactory. More effective and efficient material use needs to be achieved through the improvement in collection rates of obsolete scrap and lifetimes of final products.
    Resources Conservation and Recycling 08/2010; 54(10):737-743. DOI:10.1016/j.resconrec.2009.12.003 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    Barbara K Reck · Marine Chambon · Seiji Hashimoto · T E Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: The use of stainless steel, a metal employed in a wide range of technology applications, has been characterized for 51 countries and the world for the years 2000 and 2005. We find that the global stainless steel flow-into-use increased by more than 30% in that 5 year period, as did additions to in-use stocks. This growth was mainly driven by China, which accounted for almost half of the global growth in stainless steel crude production and which tripled its flow into use between 2000 and 2005. The global stainless steel-specific end-of-life recycling rate increased from 66% (2000) to 70% (2005); the landfilling rate was 22% for both years, and 9% (2000) to 12% (2005) was lost into recycled carbon and alloy steels. Within just 5 years, China passed such traditionally strong stainless steel producers and users as Japan, USA, Germany, and South Korea to become the dominant player of the stainless steel industry. However, China did not produce any significant stainless steel end-of-life flows in 2000 or 2005 because its products-in-use are still too new to require replacements. Major Chinese discard flows are expected to begin between 2015 and 2020.
    Environmental Science and Technology 05/2010; 44(10):3940-6. DOI:10.1021/es903584q · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The flows and stocks of seven important industrial metals were characterized for mainland China for several years in the dynamically changing decade of 1994–2004. One-year snapshot cycles are provided for chromium, nickel, and silver. For copper, zinc, lead, and iron, multiple-year cycles have been completed; they demonstrate that the flows of these metals into use in China doubled between 2000 and 2004. Although the Chinese per capita flows from production to disposal are mostly shown to be below the global average rate, they are increasing or are expected to increase dramatically. The metal resource efficiency is evaluated for several indicators of material flow analysis; these metrics for China are also below the global average values. The research quantitatively illustrates that China’s metal cycles may pose significant resource and environmental challenges in terms of their magnitudes and potential for growth.
    Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management 08/2008; 10(2):188-197. DOI:10.1007/s10163-008-0203-7 · 0.83 Impact Factor
  • Barbara K. Reck · Robert B. Gordon
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    ABSTRACT: Nickel and chromium are essential ingredients in alloys increasingly important for energy-efficient, environmentally friendly modern technology. Quantitative assessment of the flows of these metals through the world economy from resource extraction to final disposal informs resource policy, energy planning, environmental science, and waste management. This article summarizes the worldwide technological cycles of nickel and chromium in 2000. Stainless steel is the major use of these metals, but they serve numerous other special needs, as in superalloys for high-temperature service, as plating materials, and in coinage. Because they are used primarily in alloys, novel recycling issues arise as their use becomes more widespread.
    JOM: the journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 06/2008; 60(7):55-59. DOI:10.1007/s11837-008-0090-3 · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The anthropogenic nickel cycle for the year 2000 was analyzed using a material flow analysis at multiple levels: 52 countries, territories, or country groups, eight regions, and the planet. Special attention was given to the trade in nickel-containing products at different stages of the cycle. A new circular diagram highlights process connections, the role and potential of recycling, and the relevance of trade at different life stages. The following results were achieved. (1) The nickel cycle is dominated by six countries or territories: USA, China and Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and South Korea; only China also mines some of its nickel used. (2) Nickel is mostly used in alloyed form in stainless steels (68%). (3) More scrap is used for the production of stainless steels (42%) than for other first uses (11%). (4) Industrial machinery is the largest end use category for nickel (25%), followed by buildings and infrastructure (21%) and transportation (20%). (5) 57% of discarded nickel is recycled within the nickel and stainless steel industries, and 14% is lost to other metal markets where nickel is an unwanted constituent of carbon steel and copper alloy scrap.
    Environmental Science and Technology 05/2008; 42(9):3394-400. DOI:10.1021/es072108l · 5.48 Impact Factor
  • T.E. Graedel · Marlen Bertram · Barbara Reck
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    ABSTRACT: SummaryA comprehensive multilevel contemporary cycle for stocks and flows of zinc is analyzed by the tools of exploratory data analysis. The analysis is performed at three discrete organizational levels—country (53 countries and 1 country group that together comprise essentially all anthropogenic stocks and flows of zinc), world region (9 world regions), and the planet as a whole. The results demonstrate the following: (1) Exploratory data analysis provides valuable and otherwise unobtainable information about material flows, especially those across multiple spatial levels. (2) All distributions of countrylevel zinc stock and flow data are highly skewed, a few countries having large magnitudes, many having small magnitudes. Rates of fabrication of zinc-containing products for the countries are poorly correlated with rates of extraction, reflecting the fact that many countries that extract zinc do not fabricate products from zinc to any significant degree, and vice versa. (4) Virtually all countries are adding zinc to stock in the use phase (in galvanizing applications, zinc castings, etc.). These rates of addition are highly correlated with rates of zinc entering use in all regions, and are higher in regions under vigorous development. (5) With weak confidence, the rate of zinc landfilling by countries appears to be highly correlated with the rate of discard. (6) The statistical distributions of regional-level zinc cycle parameters are approximately log normal. (7) The extremes of normalized statistical distributions of zinc flow values are broader at lower spatial levels (country versus region, for example), but regional interquartile ranges for zinc entering use and zinc discards are higher at regional level then at country level.
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 02/2008; 9(3):91 - 108. DOI:10.1162/1088198054821654 · 2.71 Impact Factor
  • Claudia R. Binder · T. E. Graedel · Barbara Reck
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    ABSTRACT: A number of potential explanatory variables for the stocks and flows of copper and zinc in contemporary technological societies are co-analyzed with the tools of exploratory data analysis. A one-year analysis (circa 1994) is performed for 50 countries that comprise essentially all anthropogenic stocks and flows of the two metals. The results show that (1) The key explanatory variable for metal use is gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (purchasing power parity, PPP). By itself, GDP explains between one-third and one-half of the variance of per capita copper and zinc use. Other variables that were significantly correlated with copper and zinc use included stock of passenger cars and television sets (per 1, 000 people); two infrastructure variables, wired telephone connections, urban population, and value added inmanufacturing. The results do not provide evidence supporting the Kuznets curve hypothesis for these metals. (2) Metal use per capita can be estimated using multiple regression equations. For copper, the natural logarithm of use is related to the explanatory variables GDP (PPP), value added in manufacturing, and urban population. This model explains 80% of the variance among the different countries (r2= 0.79). The natural logarithm of zinc use is related to GDP (PPP) and value added in manufacturing with an r2 of 0.75; (3) For both metals, rates of metal fabrication, use, net addition to stock, and discard in low-and high-income countries differ significantly from each other. Our statistical analyses thus provide a basis for estimating the potential development of metal use, net addition to stock, and discard, using data on explanatory variables that are available at the international level.
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 02/2008; 10(1‐2):111 - 132. DOI:10.1162/108819806775545475 · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Contemporary cycles for copper and zinc are coanalyzed with the tools of exploratory data analysis. One-year analyses (circa 1994) are performed at three discrete spatial levels-country (52 countries that comprise essentially all anthropogenic stocks and flows of the two metals), eight world regions, and the planet as a whole-and are completed both in absolute magnitude and in per capita terms. This work constitutes, to our knowledge, the first multiscale, multilevel analysis of anthropogenic resources throughout their life cycles. The results demonstrate that (1) A high degree of correlation exists between country-level copper and country-level zinc rates of fabrication and manufacturing, entry into use, net addition to in-use stocks, discard, and landfilling; (2) Regional-level rates for copper and zinc cycle parameters show the same correlations as exist at country level; (3) On a per capita basis, countries add to in-use stock almost 50% more copper than zinc; (4) The predominant discard streams for copper and zinc at the global level are different for the two metals, and relative rates of different loss processes differ geographically, so that resource recovery policies must be designed from metalspecific and location-specific perspectives; (5)When absolute magnitudes of life-cycle flows are considered, the standard deviations of the data sets decrease from country level to regional level for both copper and zinc, which is not the case for the per capita data sets, where the statistical properties of the data sets for both metals approach being independent of spatial level, thus providing a basis for predicting unmeasured per capita metal flow behavior.
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 02/2008; 10(1‐2):89 - 110. DOI:10.1162/108819806775545402 · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    Jeremiah Johnson · B. K. Reck · T. Wang · T. E. Graedel
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    ABSTRACT: The energy used to produce austenitic stainless steel was quantified throughout its entire life cycle for three scenarios: (1) current global operations, (2) 100% recycling, and (3) use of only virgin materials. Data are representative of global average operations in the early 2000s. The primary energy requirements to produce 1 metric ton of austenitic stainless steel (with assumed metals concentrations of 18% Cr, 8% Ni, and 74% Fe) is (1) 53 GJ, (2) 26 GJ, and (3) 79 GJ for each scenario, with CO2 releases totaling (1) 3.6 metric tons CO2, (2) 1.6 metric tons CO2, and (3) 5.3 metric tons CO2. Thus, the production of 17 million metric tons of austenitic stainless steel in 2004 used approximately 9.0×1017 J of primary energy and released 61 million metric tons of CO2. Current recycling operations reduce energy use by 33% (4.4×1017 J) and CO2 emissions by 32% (29 million tons). If austenitic stainless steel were to be produced solely from scrap, which is currently not possible on a global level due to limited availability, energy use would be 67% less than virgin-based production and CO2 emissions would be cut by 70%. The calculation of the total energy is most sensitive to the amount and type of scrap fed into the electric arc furnace, the unit energy of the electric arc furnace, the unit energy of ferrochromium production, and the form of primary nickel.
    Energy Policy 02/2008; 36(1-36):181-192. DOI:10.1016/j.enpol.2007.08.028 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have carried out an assessment of the in-use stock of nickel in New Haven, CT, by “bottom–up” methods. To our knowledge, this is only the second characterization of in-use nickel stock in any locale and at any epoch. We find that the City of New Haven contains about 321 Mg (1 Mg = 1 metric tonnes = 1000 kg) of nickel, primarily in the form of nickel-containing alloys. For every resident of New Haven, there is approximately 2.6 kg of nickel stock in use. The principal uses accounting for these totals are identified and quantified in this paper.
    Resources Conservation and Recycling 03/2007; 50(1-50):58-70. DOI:10.1016/j.resconrec.2006.05.009 · 2.69 Impact Factor