(564c) Hybrid Techno-Economic Modeling Tool for Greener Chemicals Supply Chains

Yao, Y. - Presenter, Northwestern University
Chang, Y., Northwestern University
Thwaites, F., Northwestern University
Masanet, E., Northwestern University

The demand of chemical products is rapidly increasing due to the growth of global economy. At the same time, the chemicals industry is a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) because of its high energy consumption(1). As such, reducing the energy and emissions footprints of chemicals is a critical priority for environmentalists, manufacturers and policy makers. Promoted by this question, green supply chain management is receiving increasing attention because it can help chemical industry to reduce the overall environmental intensity and thereby offer “greener” products. Most supply chain initiatives and related studies apply process-based life-cycle assessment (LCA) techniques to model and quantify the environmental impacts and sustainability performance of chemicals(2). These LCA studies help people to understand the current environmental footprints of many chemicals, but they are not able to answer the question: how and where can we reduce the life-cycle energy and pollution footprints of these chemicals?  This question requires the support of techno-economic technology potentials analysis, which is a vibrant facilities engineering and analysis field that has operated largely independent of LCA to date(3, 4).

A comprehensive decision support tool incorporating techno-economic analysis methods and data into the life cycle assessment (LCA) framework is presented in this paper. The techno-economic analysis includes detailed characterizations of discrete technologies for reducing energy use and environmental impacts, their remaining installation potential in various plants and economic sectors, and their relative cost and environmental performance when deployed in combination. With this analysis, the model can identify and incentivize cost effective improvements for green supply chains within the chemicals industry to produce maximal energy reduction at minimal environmental burden. It can provide chemical manufacturers with comprehensive understanding of the greatest opportunities and potential cost requirements for supply-chain energy savings and environmental improvements. Also, the adoption of new process and material can be easily incorporated into this model, which can help designers to prescreen the sustainability performance of their design on a higher level. This tool also provides policy makers with cost-effective and efficient policy options to promote the development of more sustainable chemical product supply chains.


1.         ICCA. 2009. Innovations for Greenhouse Gas Reductions ICCA

2.         Goldberg A, Holdaway E, Reinaud J, O’Keeffe S. 2012. Promoting Energy Savings and GHG Mitigation Through Industrial Supply Chain Initiatives Institute for Industrial Productivity

3.         Masanet E, Matthews HS, Carlson D, Horvath A. 2012. Retail Climate Change Mitigation: Life-cycle Emission and Energy Efficiency Labels and Standards : Final Report: University of California, Berkeley

4.         McKinsey & Company. 2009. Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy., McKinsey Global Energy and Materials New York, New York