DOE Industrial Assessment Center
NSF CAREER: Environmental Sustainability of Photovoltaics in the US
The objective of this project is to develop an integrated simulation tool to evaluate the combined effect of technology change, economics, and policy on the environmental impact of solar photovoltaics (PVs) over time in the US. It will provide outcomes including 1) a novel module database and classification method for PV modules, 2) the identification of factors that contribute to module selection, 3) the material inventory, toxicity, and recyclability of current and future PV technologies, 4) the life cycle assessment of modules manufactured, used and recycled in the US and 5) an integrated simulation tool to calculate the cost and life cycle environmental impact of PV systems that will be adapted for education and outreach activities. The simulation tool developed in this work will be used for research, teaching, and outreach and facilitate discussion of the tradeoffs associated with PV compared to other energy technologies.
Reincarnation of Polymers for the Circular Economy (NSF – EFRI E3P)
The goal of the project is to develop and demonstrate new approaches to recycling plastics. The scope of the project includes novel ways to depolymerize polymers and repolymerize the products into valuable materials. Controlled experimentation complemented by chemical kinetic models, molecular-scale simulations, and machine learning are the primary methods used. Specialized expertise in life cycle analysis (LCA) will be used to assess and establish the utility of the new and innovative approaches. MSU News
Sustainable energy transition: Beyond material analysis (NSF)
The overall thrust of this project is to evaluate the sustainability of energy transition in the United States by simultaneously considering the environmental and political impact associated with the increase in the global demand for nuclear energy as well as the large-scale deployment of energy alternatives, in particular wind and photovoltaics.
Developing Pathways Toward Sustainable Irrigation across the United States Using Process-based Systems Models (USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture INFEWS) MSU news
Interactive Decision Analysis Tool to Guide Life Battery Energy Storage System Options (Ford)
Electric vehicle (EV) battery costs and environmental impact can be reduced by increasing their lifetime beyond the in-vehicle use phase by reusing them in more benign stationary energy applications. The complexity in modeling energy storage investment increases significantly as one tries to incorporate the interactions between energy system deployment, and respective environmental and economic impacts. To support informed decision-making, we will build a simulation tool which will use a baseline scenario incorporating current policy, energy, commodity prices and consumer behavior, as well as options to evaluate alternative based on combinations of policy, economic and environmental constraints and their impact over time.
Field and Laboratory Evaluation of Polymer-Coated Rubber (PCR) Modifier Asphalt (MDEQ)
Polymer coated rubber (PCR) is an innovative material in the field of asphalt pavement applications. It is a chemically enhanced rubber particle made from scrap tires partially covered by a polymer emulsion. Its use in hot mix asphalt (HMA) as a modifier to improve the mechanical performance of road pavements in lieu of the styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) is still being evaluated.
A Green Chemistry Approach to Organic and Transparent Photovoltaic Material Synthesis and Device Fabrication (NSF-1511098)
The goal was to assess the sustainability of organic photovoltaic device (OPV) manufacture by life-cycle assessment (LCA) and green chemistry metrics. LCA was used to identify critical steps in the life cycle where the most significant reduction in resource and emissions can be achieved, and suggest new materials synthesis and device fabrication pathways to minimize environmental impact.
Second Life Potential and Environmental Benefit of EV Batteries in Photovoltaic Applications (Ford)
Linking Engineering and Science Studies to Support a Transition to Sustainable Energy (Science and Society @ State (S3)
End-of-life management of PV & battery waste
This project uses proactive sustainability assessment to evaluate the risk for PV to become a major source of electronic waste. The objective of this project is to quantify the amount and toxicity of PV waste as a result of increasing solar installation and diversity of solar technologies. It combines experimental and modeling work to evaluate opportunities for material recovery and recycling to reduce the amount of hazardous waste to be generated.
Process design and life cycle modeling of wastewater treatment
PV potential for the Southeast
Clemson Kata Tiska MS Student
The potential for PV installation and selection of case-study sites is performed using a multi-criteria approach combining specific GIS data on the solar insolation, topographic limitations, environmental and land-use constraints specific for the selected region. Using a life-cycle approach, including system manufacturing, land preparation (deforestation and flattening), construction and operation, the potential for air pollutant reduction and carbon dioxide from increasing PV energy production as well as other relevant environmental impact is studied for various types of PV installations.
An Educational Simulation Tool for Integrated Coastal Tourism Development in Developing Countries
(Dr David Leblanc, UN DESA)
Exploring environmental-economic feedback loops in coastal tourism development in a small island context with a simple simulation tool. In spite of the importance of coastal tourism for the economies of many developing countries, tourism infrastructure has often been developed without adequate consideration of long-term impacts on the environment, resulting in adverse impacts on other sectors of the economy and eventually causing the decline of the very resource on which tourism is based. The sustainable coastal tourism development training tool is an educational tool based on a generic model for integrated planning of coastal tourism infrastructure. The tool aims to address gaps in awareness and capacity for integrated decision-making and planning in tourism infrastructure development in a developing country context, and is especially relevant to small islands. Paper