(107f) Resource Efficiency and Fingerprinting Metrics through Exergetic Life Cycle Analysis

Van der Vorst, G., Ghent University
Dewulf, J., Ghent University
Van Langenhove, H., Ghent University
Aelterman, W., Johnson & Johnson PRD, Janssen Pharmaceutica nv

Environmental Performance of Technology is undoubtedly a critical issue in developing sustainable technology. Emphasis for a long time now has been on reducing the emission pattern of processes. It is not surprising that traditional LCA pops up here as a mature tool for the assessment of improvements: it contains several emission impact categories such as global warming, ozone depletion, toxics emission, acidification etc.

However, at the other end of the production chain technology puts pressure on the environment through the extraction of resources. Nowadays, with an obvious depletion of some of the natural resources through a growing worldwide demand, technology will undoubtedly be forced to deal in an efficient way with the resources and maybe it will also need to shift the pattern of the resources it takes in, for example more renewables.

Metrics with respect to resource intake, resource efficiency and resource fingerprinting are not that mature as emission assessment tools. Nevertheless, it is obvious that thermodynamics through its exergy concept brings strong opportunities (Dewulf et al., 2008). It gives a consistent basis to quantify all kind of resources: organic and inorganic, fuel and feedstock, renewable and non-renewable, energy and material, ... Through combination with a life cycle approach into Exergetic Life Cycle Analysis, it may be one of the best available resource assessment tools.

The presentation here brings two main parts. In a first part it learns the potential of exergy and especially exergetic life cycle assessment as a resource assessment tool. Second, through two specific cases in the pharmaceutical industry (Plant of Johnson & Johnson PRD, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Beerse, Belgium), it is demonstrated what insights it brings through looking at the full supply chain and through looking at materials and energy, feedstocks and utilities. The two cases are a separation through chromatography versus crystallisation, and supercritical fluid chromatography versus high performance liquid chromatography.


1.J. Dewulf, G. Van der Vorst, A. Aelterman, B. De Witte, H. Vanbaelen and H. Van Langenhove. Integral resource management by exergy analysis for the selection of a separation process in the pharmaceutical industry. Green Chemistry, 9 (2007) 785-791.

2. J. Dewulf, H. Van Langenhove, B. Muys, S. Bruers, B.R. Bakshi, G.F. Grubb, D.M. Paulus, E. Sciubba. Exergy: its potential and limitations in Environmental Science and Technology. Environmental Science and Technology 42 (2008) 2221-2232.