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Sustainable Engineering: Concepts, Design, and Case Studies by David R. Shonnard, David T. Allen

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Chapter 4. Green, Sustainable Materials

4.1. Introduction

Almost every engineering design involves the use of materials. If an engineering design is to be as sustainable as possible, the materials that are involved in the embodiment of the design should have light environmental and natural resource use footprints. Determining the magnitude of a material’s footprint is not straightforward, however. In this chapter, a three-pronged approach to characterizing the footprint of materials will be described.

To be used in an engineering design, a material must first be extracted and purified (refined), and the overall impact of this extraction and refining is the first component of the footprint. Once the material enters the production system, it can ...

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