ENP Newswire -
Release date- 02102013 - In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, industrialisation swept the globe and changed it forever: humanity mastered the art of transforming the world's raw materials into the 'stuff of the world'.
Today, everything around us, from the cars we drive, to the goods we own and the clothes we wear is largely the product of industrial manufacturing.
But industrialisation also had an unintended effect on the global environment - contributing to the increasing burden of carbon emissions, pollution and waste - and it's widely accepted that a new 'green' industrial revolution is urgently needed.
'It's clear that current processes cannot be sustained indefinitely,' said Professor
Evans leads the
Centre researchers work with multinational businesses such as
'To live well, experts think that we must be able to manufacture what we need using less than a quarter of the current bio-capacity. What this means is a reduction of 75-90% in how much carbon-based energy and resources our industrial systems currently use,' said Evans. 'And to achieve this will mean a complete reshaping of how we manufacture.'
His vision extends all the way to a future in which factories could have a net positive effect on the environment: 'Part of the work we are doing on configurations would suggest that by the 2050s the air and water leaving factories might be cleaner than what's going in. A greater number will either use local materials or grow the materials they use - perhaps as nanostructures or using green chemistry. This will fundamentally change scale and location decisions for factories to the point where they will be so advantageous that people will want them at the end of their street.'
Developing ideas of how eco-factories could look in the future is one aspect of the research carried out by the Centre. However, these are long-term visions, and the researchers recognise not only the complexities of change but also that the 'window of opportunity for action is rapidly closing.' One key focus of their research agenda, therefore, is to understand how industries can improve their efficiency and environmental performance now, without changing current products and processes.
'How can you find out how efficient a factory can be? You just ask common sense questions,' said Evans. 'We go into the factories to collect examples of sustainable industrial activity, identify new courses of action, and then publish these as case study reports.' A database of over 1,000 effective practices in industrial sustainability has been compiled and will be generally available later this year.
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