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Abstract

In the present days, there is no commonly accepted standard methodology to measure sustainability. It is a highly complex problem that deals with a great amount of variables and each step of the analysis-from the selection of indicators to metrics aggregation-can end up dictating the analysis' outcome. Since Brazil is a country with several types of climate, soil and social conditions, it requires a certified way to guarantee that its future economic activities and products will be sustainable across their life cycle. Inmetro has been studying metrics and methodologies to support Brazil in ensuring sustainability by generating national sustainability indexes for their industries and processes. Sustainable development may be incorporated into government, industries and corporation policies through standards, conformity assessment procedures, and metrology. We suggest incorporating the fundamental principles of measurements to assess the sustainability of chemical processes. As green products and materials continue to arise, the need to identify the true " greenness " of a chemical process becomes more and more clear, given that is pointless to have a green product manufactured via a non-sustainable pathway. Our current work aims at developing and consolidating a systematic framework to calculate a gate-to-gate sustainability index of chemical processes-considering regional specific conditions-, establishing objective, measurable and traceable metrics. The framework is based on the approaches proposed by Brandi et al. (2016) to measure sustainability systems and Ruiz-Mercado (2012) to quantify process sustainability focused on sustainable design, and consists in (i) identifying an initial set of indicators that are representative of a gate-to-gate assessment of chemical processes considering five dimensions: environment, energy, efficiency, economy and health & safety; (ii) using multivariate statistical tools to group the indicators into a valid set, resulting in an optimum subset of indicators; (iii) choosing the most appropriate normalization technique, since the indicators in the data set have different measurement units; (iv) establishing heuristic rules to attribute weights based on facility-level conditions, allowing prioritization of indicators according to regional characteristics, thus appointing the optimal trade-offs in a direct way; (v) aggregating commensurable indicators in a methodological manner into a single composite indicator; and (vi) submitting the results to uncertainty evaluation and sensitivity analysis. The framework will be implemented into a computer aided tool that will be available at Inmetro's website. The application of metrological procedures to the proposed framework incorporates internationally recognized tools to (Brandi and dos Santos, 2016): (a) understand the relative impact on the sustainability index, meaning an appropriate aggregate measure of the indicators, due to changes in the indicators; (b) identify and quantify risks associated with the indicators and the path to reach high sustainability level through uncertainty evaluation; (c) identify clusters of systems based on their sustainability index and associated uncertainties; (d) harmonize sustainability measurement and uncertainty measurement techniques. We expect that the gate-to-gate sustainability index of chemical processes will support process engineers in decision making, assisting and guiding process design, identifying process bottlenecks, and directing research and innovation efforts in the field.
Measuring the Sustainability of Chemical Processes
Daniela R. G. de Faria, Luciano N. Batista
National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (Inmetro)
Nossa senhora das Graças Avenue, 50, building 28, 25250-020, Duque de Caxias, Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil
dfaria@inmetro.gov.br
In the present days, there is no commonly accepted standard methodology to measure
sustainability. It is a highly complex problem that deals with a great amount of variables and
each step of the analysis - from the selection of indicators to metrics aggregation - can end up
dictating the analysis’ outcome. Since Brazil is a country with several types of climate, soil and
social conditions, it requires a certified way to guarantee that its future economic activities and
products will be sustainable across their life cycle. Inmetro has been studying metrics and
methodologies to support Brazil in ensuring sustainability by generating national sustainability
indexes for their industries and processes. Sustainable development may be incorporated into
government, industries and corporation policies through standards, conformity assessment
procedures, and metrology. We suggest incorporating the fundamental principles of
measurements to assess the sustainability of chemical processes. As green products and
materials continue to arise, the need to identify the true “greenness” of a chemical process
becomes more and more clear, given that is pointless to have a green product manufactured via
a non-sustainable pathway.
Our current work aims at developing and consolidating a systematic framework to calculate a
gate-to-gate sustainability index of chemical processes - considering regional specific
conditions -, establishing objective, measurable and traceable metrics. The framework is based
on the approaches proposed by Brandi et al. (2016) to measure sustainability systems and
Ruiz-Mercado (2012) to quantify process sustainability focused on sustainable design, and
consists in (i) identifying an initial set of indicators that are representative of a gate-to-gate
assessment of chemical processes considering five dimensions: environment, energy,
efficiency, economy and health & safety; (ii) using multivariate statistical tools to group the
indicators into a valid set, resulting in an optimum subset of indicators; (iii) choosing the most
appropriate normalization technique, since the indicators in the data set have different
measurement units; (iv) establishing heuristic rules to attribute weights based on facility-level
conditions, allowing prioritization of indicators according to regional characteristics, thus
appointing the optimal trade-offs in a direct way; (v) aggregating commensurable indicators in a
methodological manner into a single composite indicator; and (vi) submitting the results to
uncertainty evaluation and sensitivity analysis. The framework will be implemented into a
computer aided tool that will be available at Inmetro’s website. The application of metrological
procedures to the proposed framework incorporates internationally recognized tools to (Brandi
and dos Santos, 2016): (a) understand the relative impact on the sustainability index, meaning
an appropriate aggregate measure of the indicators, due to changes in the indicators; (b)
identify and quantify risks associated with the indicators and the path to reach high sustainability
level through uncertainty evaluation; (c) identify clusters of systems based on their sustainability
index and associated uncertainties; (d) harmonize sustainability measurement and uncertainty
measurement techniques. We expect that the gate-to-gate sustainability index of chemical
processes will support process engineers in decision making, assisting and guiding process
design, identifying process bottlenecks, and directing research and innovation efforts in the
field.
References:
Brandi, Humberto S.; dos Santos, Silvio Francisco. Introducing Measurement Science into
Sustainability Systems. Clean Techn Environ Policy. 2016, 18 (2), 359371.
Brandi, H. S.; dos Santos, S. F.; Sikdar, S. K. Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies:
Measuring Sustainability Systems. Elsevier. 2016 (in press).
Ruiz-Mercado, Gerardo J. Sustainability Indicators for Chemical Processes: I. Taxonomy. I&EC
Research. 2012, 51 (5), 23092328.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we discuss perspectives of adopting procedures of metrology, the science of measurements, into sustainability assessments. We present an overview of general concepts of system theory, sustainability, and sustainability metrics. We use these concepts together with the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM) metrological approach to include estimation of uncertainties and sensitivity analysis in the model framework to construct aggregated sustainability indicators proposed by Santos and Brandi. To illustrate the method, we apply Canberra distance to study the sustainability of the integration and logistic infrastructure dimension of the biodiesel supply chain in Brazil and Germany. Sustainability has been embodied into government, industries and corporations’ policies through standards, conformity assessment, and metrology. This increases the need for sound measurements to address sustainability. To perform sensitivity analysis, we propose an expression to evaluate changes in the sustainability index due to variations in a given indicator, generalizing the linear approximation of the GUM framework. We concluded that metrological procedures can be applied to estimate uncertainties of sustainability systems and their components. Adopting metrological procedures may be an important step to harmonize approaches involving measurements in sustainability systems. Sensitivity analysis provides information about the influence on the sustainability index due to variations of indicators from sustainability systems.
Article
High demand and consumption rates of ecological materials and services to satisfy societal needs and for the dissipation of emissions are quickly exceeding the capacity that nature can provide. To avoid a tipping point situation, where ecological services may no longer be available, society must consider a sustainable path forward. The chemical industry's response is to incorporate a sustainability approach early into process design to reduce the quantity of goods and services needed and to prevent and minimize releases, while increasing their economic and social benefits. This approach leads to design modifications of existing and new chemical processes, which requires a complete sustainability performance assessment that can support a decision-maker to determine whether a process is becoming more or less sustainable. Hence, the development of indicators capable of assessing process sustainability becomes crucial. This work presents a taxonomic classification and definition of sustainability indicators according to the environmental, efficiency, energy, and economic bases proposed by the GREENSCOPE methodology for the evaluation and design of sustainable processes. In addition, this work proposes a general scale for measuring sustainability according to the identification and use of best possible target and worst-case scenarios as reference states, as the upper and lower bounds of a sustainability measurement scale. This taxonomy will prove valuable in evaluating chemical process sustainability in the various stages of design and optimization.
Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies: Measuring Sustainability Systems
  • H S Brandi
  • S F Santos
  • S K Sikdar
Brandi, H. S.; dos Santos, S. F.; Sikdar, S. K. Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies: Measuring Sustainability Systems. Elsevier. 2016 (in press).