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Life Cycle thinking made easy - is there a life after death for materials?


On 3 May 2011, between 13.00 and 14.00 CET, the Futurenergia school programme will be hosting an online chat with Professor JOSÉ M. BALDASANO RECIO.

Professor Baldasano is Bachelor (1973) and Doctor (1983) in Chemistry from the "Universidad de Barcelona" (Spain), Chemical Engineer (1976) from the "Institut National Polytechnique" of Toulouse (France) and Master on Science in Chemical Engineering (1979) from the Sherbrooke University (Canada). For a more complete CV, press here .

FuturEnergia is a project to educate European students on energy efficiency, climate protection and resource efficiency issues.

The purpose of this chat is to give the students an understanding of how scientific research and analysis can help identify the most beneficial energy and resource-saving choices across a whole range of activities.


Themes that may be covered under this chat:
What cutting-edge scientific analysis tells us about climate protection

  • Outline of the work done at the at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center on development and implementation of high resolution emission-meteorology-chemistry modelling systems

  • Implications of this research for individual behaviour e.g. the need to reduce individual consumption of energy and natural resources

  • Key principles of lifecycle thinking and lifecycle assessments, and their advantages over more simplistic forms of measuring environmental impacts (e.g. Carbon Footprinting, which only measures greenhouse gas emissions)

How the science behind plastics helps in protecting the climate

  • Plastics are synthetic materials, meaning that they are artificial or manufactured. The building blocks for making plastics are small organic molecules – molecules that contain carbon along with other substances. Each of these small molecules is known as a monomer ("one part") because it's capable of joining with other monomers to form very long molecule chains called polymers ("many parts") during a chemical reaction called polymerisation

  • As synthetic materials, plastics can be engineered to have specific properties that are beneficial for specific applications. For example, plastics can be made to combine strength with lightweighting, which help create strong, light vehicles which use less fuel

Ways in which plastics reduce resource and energy consumption
A recent study has demonstrated that:

  • The plastic products on the market today have enabled energy savings of 2.400 million GJ per year, equivalent to 53 million tonnes of crude oil carried by 205 very large crude oil tankers. This could be enough to power 46 million cars

  • The GHG emissions saved (124 Mt per year) are equivalent to the total CO2 emissions of Belgium in the year 2000 [UNFCCC, 2009] and are also equivalent to 39 % of the EU15 Kyoto target regarding the reduction of GHG emissions

  • In 2007, the estimated use benefits from plastics were 5-9 times higher than the emissions from the production and recovery phases (i.e. a strongly positive carbon balance). In 2020 the estimated use-benefits could be 9-15 times higher than the forecast emissions from production and waste management at that time.

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