(119c) Spatially-Explicit Techno-Ecological Design for Sustainable Manufacturing and Minimized Air Pollution Health Impacts | AIChE

(119c) Spatially-Explicit Techno-Ecological Design for Sustainable Manufacturing and Minimized Air Pollution Health Impacts


Charles, M. - Presenter, The Ohio State University
Bakshi, B., Ohio State University
Sustainable design is increasingly in focus for academia, industry, and policy makers. With technology taking prioritization in the pursuit of sustainability, nature’s solutions to regulating pollutants and environmental hazards are forgotten. Although technology is necessary to maintain the current state of pollution control, both technology and ecology should both be considered as solutions moving forward. Because ecological solutions require time to grow to mature states, it can be argued that these should have immediate priority to reap greater benefits in the future. Previous work in techno-ecological process design has shown this along with economic analyses that reveal competitive feasibility. In some cases, ecological solutions have proved to be cheaper than technological alternatives. Along with decreasing negative environmental impacts, including ecosystems in sustainable design can lead to innovative solutions which utilize the functions and co-benefits of nature as we search for sustainable solutions amid increasing population and demand for these services.

One challenge that is characteristic of ecosystems and ecological models, is the spatial and temporal variation of ecosystem services based on land-cover heterogeneity, meteorological patterns, seasonality of ecological functions, and other variables. It is important to understand how, where, and when mass and energy flow across components of techno-ecological systems to inform design opportunities and impacts. This work focuses on gaseous pollutants, air quality regulation, and exposure to local communities. We incorporate a detailed geophysical and meteorological dispersion model to simulate atmospheric dispersion of air pollution from a given site and the capacity of local ecosystems to uptake those pollutants through dry deposition. This research introduces a spatially-explicit techno-ecological design framework, enabling design of both the manufacturing process and the surrounding landscape. An additional layer of spatially-informed population and exposure to health risks is included within the framework to add a design objective based on health and safety.

Both the framework and a case study will be presented. The case focuses on criteria air pollutants (SO2, NO2, and PM10) and carbon dioxide emissions for a power generation station near Cincinnati, OH. The case will compare pollution removal between technological equipment and land-use change opportunities in the region, optimizing minimum-cost and minimum-health risk solutions that meet given pollution removal requirements. Different scenarios will be demonstrated, showing the impacts of different model spatial scales, different ecosystem service accounting methods, budget constraints, and others. The results yield both long-term operating conditions of technology and maps of land changes over time. Further, we will discuss sensitivity to critical variables such as conditional costs of conducting land changes. Our results show opportunities and limitations for land management as a solution to air quality regulation, specifically for a power station on the border between a rural and urban region. In presenting future opportunities, we will also show initial work in integrating spatial landscape design with high-resolution temporal process operations of pollution control technology. Exploring spatially-explicit design options for techno-ecological systems enables smarter industrial site design and is one step closer towards bridging ecological knowledge with engineering practice.