437371 Chemical Industry and Biogeochemical Cycles: A Techno-Ecological Approach to Industry Sustainability

Thursday, November 12, 2015: 8:30 AM
258 (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Shweta Singh, Agricultural & Biological Engineering/Environmental & Ecological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN and Bhavik R. Bakshi, William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Biogeochemical cycles provide several resources and services for functioning of human built systems including industrial systems. This connection is generally not recognized or accounted; thus leading to severe transformations in these natural cycles. Recent studies have indicated degradation of ecosystem services associated with the biogeochemical cycles. To address this lack of accounting for role of biogeochemical cycle flows, a database was developed using the Ecologically Based Life Cycle Assessment (Eco-LCA). Specifically, the database was focused on the C and N cycle flows that support or are effected by various economic activities including industrial production [1, 2]. The inventory is a life cycle scale inventory based on Economic Input-Output (EIO) model that can quantify both direct and indirect dependence of chemical sector production to flows of C & N cycle along with life cycle footprint calculation.

In this work, the connection of chemical industrial sectors with various flows of C & N cycle is highlighted. The emphasis is on quantifying the reliance of several chemical sectors on flows of C and N along with the impact of changes in feed stocks for several chemical products. This is demonstrated by the comparison of C & N footprint for several chemical sectors along with the impact of changing feedstock for common chemical products such as bio-based fuels or polymers. Through this study we demonstrate the need to understand the trade-offs in carbon and nitrogen footprint because of the shift to bio-based feedstock. The work also emphasizes the need to utilize techno-ecological approach for design of chemical industry to ensure operation within ecological constraints [3].


1.      Singh, S. and Bakshi, B. “Accounting for the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen in input-output life cycle assessment.” (2013) Env. Sci. & Tech. 47 (16), 9388-9396

2.      Singh, S. and Bakshi, B. “Accounting for Emissions and Sinks from the Biogeochemical Cycle of Carbon in the US Economic Input-Output Model.” (2014) Journal of Industrial Ecology. 18 (6), 818-828

3.      Gibbemeyer, E. L., Incorporating the Demand for and Capacity of Ecosystem Services in Analysis and Design, Ph. D. Thesis, The Ohio State University, 2014

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