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Department of Chemical Engineering

A female researcher looking at CCalc software on a computer

Sustainable industrial systems

The main aim of our research is to help identify sustainable solutions for industrial systems on a life cycle basis, taking into account economic, environmental and social aspects.

We work across different sectors and supply chains, including chemicals, energy, food and water. We collaborate with industry, government, NGOs and other organisations.

We specialise in the following research areas:

Sustainable production and consumption

Sustainability diagram

We define sustainable production and consumption as production and use of products and services in a manner that is economically viable, environmentally benign and socially beneficial over their whole life cycle. Our research looks at the interactions between technologies, consumption and policy to help identify more sustainable solutions for both producers and consumers.

Life cycle sustainability assessment

Life cycle sustainability assessment diagram

All our research is underpinned by life cycle thinking. This means we consider the sustainability of processes and products 'from cradle to grave', taking into account all activities from extraction of fuels and raw materials through production and use to end-of-life management. To assess sustainability we use the following tools: life cycle assessment (environmental sustainability), life cycle costing (economic sustainability) and social life cycle assessment (social sustainability).

We integrate the findings from the environmental, economic and social sustainability assessments using multi-criteria decision analysis to help identify the most sustainable options. We also use the results to identify sustainability hotspots and opportunities for improvements. Among other sectors, we specialise in sustainability assessments in the energy and food industries.

Circular economy

Circular economy diagram

Our research in this area aims to maximise resource efficiency by identifying alternative approaches to the current linear 'take-make-use-dispose' consumption pattern. We specifically focus on helping companies implement circular economy principles into their everyday business.

To support companies in their move to a circular business, we have developed a decision-support framework known as BECE. This framework combines eco-design with backcasting to provide a step-by-step guide to organisations on how to incorporate circular economy thinking into business practice.