(682d) Designing Manufacturing Sites Toward Local Sustainability By Understanding Spatial Variance of Industrial Air Pollution and Local Ecosystem Regulation

Authors: 
Charles, M., Ohio State University
Bakshi, B. R., The Ohio State University
The consequences of a history of excluding ecosystem services from process engineering and decision -making are being revealed through many environmental impacts. Ecosystems are the basis of human survival as we rely on them for food, clean water, clean air, and many other services. Despite the many services ecosystems provide, traditional engineering has excluded these services as it has searched for solutions and technology to improve the lives of mankind, often impacting the ecosystems which we rely on for our well-being. 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 of ecosystems.

In combining technological and ecological processes within one system, it is important to understand the scale and spatial variance of flows between the processes. Previous work in techno-ecological process design has lacked inclusion of the spatial heterogeneity of ecosystem service supply and the industrial demand of those services. This research aims to provide that understanding, specifically for air pollution and regulation by developing an approach for designing a manufacturing site as a network of technological and ecological systems. Previous research in the field of ecosystem service mapping yields methods for showing available ecosystem services across different spaces and scales, however, fails to connect these services to specific beneficiaries such as a manufacturing site. Connecting the service with the beneficiary requires understanding of ecosystem servicesheds, areas which provide specific ecosystem services to specific beneficiaries. Unfortunately, compared to ecosystem service mapping, research on servicesheds is lacking in application past concept. Applied to sustainable design, servicesheds can be understood as the spatial scale of a techno-ecological system, defining industrial pollution sources as beneficiaries. Focusing specifically on servicesheds which regulate air pollution from an industrial source, the ecosystems can be modeled as downstream unit operations of the technological process, using dry deposition to capture pollution from the air. Because methods for explicitly quantifying air quality regulating servicesheds are lacking in literature, defining the servicesheds mathematically was the first step towards bridging this ecological knowledge with engineering practice. Understanding the capacity of local ecosystems to regulate the chemicals released to the atmosphere from industrial processes can provide understanding of absolute sustainability, the condition where our demand on ecosystems is less than their available supply within the scale of interest.

Including ecosystems within sustainable process design enables eco-based solutions to increase the supply of ecosystem services, rather than solely focusing on decreasing the demand. This research advances the inclusion of ecosystems within sustainable design through exploring the spatial variation of both the ecological deposition and the dispersion of the air pollution from a given source. This knowledge can determine areas where land-use change can have the highest impact in meeting sustainability goals by implementing land restoration and management methods. Acknowledging areas of high impact can enable sustainable land management solutions that minimize the area of land required along with restoration and management costs. The scale of these models, including the potential land which can be restored and managed, is determined through the quantification of the serviceshed.

To conduct this research, a case study was conducted on a biodiesel production facility in Cincinnati, OH. The case study focused on SO2 stack emissions and dry deposition of local ecosystems. Using the EPA-approved atmospheric transport model, CALPUFF, the transport of the facility’s emissions was modeled along with the deposition fluxes of the surrounding land cover, calculated using ecological models within CALPUFF. The results yielded the information needed to determine the scale of the serviceshed of the specified service. Then, using land change scenarios within the serviceshed, optimization methods were used to find optimal inputs to the ecological model for the dry deposition equations, which depend upon the concentration of the pollutant. In addition to traditional engineering design decision variables, the ecological decision variable of this optimization includes the spatial arrangement of the various land cover classifications, while acknowledging the constraints of land use that could not be changed, such as bodies of water and urban development. This case study has led to the development of quantitative definitions of air quality regulation servicesheds and applications of optimization methods to understand the spatial heterogeneity of pollutant deposition and dispersion based on atmospheric chemical transport and land cover information. Understanding the spatial heterogeneity of the pollution and ecosystem services enables smarter industrial site design, including design of both the techno- and ecological processes.