Engineering for Sustainable Development (ESD) is an integrated systems approach, which aims at developing a balance between the requirements of the current stakeholders without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs. This is a multi-criteria decision-making process that involves the identification of the most optimal sustainable process, which satisfies economic, ecological, social criteria as well as safety and health requirements. Certain difficulties are encountered when ESD is applied such as ill-defined criteria, scarcity of information, lack of process-specific data, metrics, and the need to satisfy multiple decision makers. Center’s research is to develop new approach/methodology to overcome these difficulties.
ESD can be broken down into three major steps, starting with the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the process, followed by generation of non-dominating alternatives, and finally selecting the most sustainable process by employing an analytic hierarchical selection process. This methodology starts with the prioritization of the sustainability metrics (health and safety, economic, ecological and social components). Then the alternatives are subjected to a pair-wise comparison with respect to each Sustainable Development (SD) indicator and prioritized depending on their performance. The SD indicator priority score and each individual alternative’s performance score together are used to determine the most sustainable alternative. Currently center’s research is to apply proposed analysis approach and metrics for ESD to alternative biofuel production and fuel cell system.
Biodiesel is considered one of the most promising developments in the field of renewable fuel sources. There are currently several process techniques available for biodiesel production. Due to various alternatives available, there is a necessity for creating methodology that will enable the identification of the most favorable technique. The Sustainability metrics can be used to assess the different alternatives for their environmental, economical, safety, and social implications. An analytical hierarchical process is used to prioritize the comparison parameters based on their degree of importance in reference to the decision to be made. The degree of difference exhibited by the alternatives with respect to each sustainability parameter is used to identify the most suitable alternative for each system under consideration. A decision framework has been created to quantify the SD metrics, perform a differential analytical comparison, and identify the most sustainable alternative from a list of available options.Proposed Technical Approach: