Current work within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory is focused on the development of a method for modeling chemical process sustainability. The GREENSCOPE methodology, defined for the four bases of Environment, Economics, Efficiency, and Energy, can evaluate processes with over a hundred different indicators. These indicators provide a means for realizing the principles of green chemistry and green engineering in the context of sustainability.
Development of the methodology has centered around three focal points. One is a taxonomy of impacts that describe the indicators and provide absolute scales for their evaluation. The setting of best and worst limits for the indicators allows the user to know the status of the process under study in relation to understood values. Thus, existing or imagined processes can be evaluated according to their relative indicator scores, and process modifications can strive towards realizable targets.
A second area of focus is in advancing definitions of data needs for the many indicators of the taxonomy. Each of the indicators has specific data that is necessary for their calculation. Values needed and data sources have been identified. These needs can be mapped according to the information source (e.g., input stream, output stream, external data, etc.) for each of the bases. The user can visualize data-indicator relationships on the way to choosing selected ones for evaluation.
Finally, the methodology is applied to an example, considering the production of biodiesel with various process parameters. Evaluations and process improvements are shown using the taxonomy and data developments described above. Analyses show where biodiesel processes can be improved and made more sustainable in terms of environmental, economic, efficiency, and energy measures.
See more of this Group/Topical: Environmental Division