Materials and the Environment

Materials and the Environment, 2nd Edition

Eco-informed Material Choice

Materials and the Environment, 2nd Edition,Michael Ashby,ISBN9780123859716






235 X 191

The first book devoted solely to the environmental aspects of materials and their selection, production, use and disposal, by one of the world's foremost materials authorities.

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Key Features

  • Introduces methods and tools for thinking about and designing with materials within the context of their role in products and the environmental consequences
  • Contains numerous case studies showing how the methods discussed in the book can be applied to real-world situations
  • Includes full-color data sheets for 40 of the most widely used materials, featuring such environmentally relevant information as their annual production and reserves, embodied energy and process energies, carbon footprints, and recycling data

New to this edition:

  • New chapter of Case Studies of Eco-audits illustrating the rapid audit method
  • New chapter on Materials for Low Carbon Power examines the consequences for materials supply of a major shift from fossil-fuel based power to power from renewables
  • New chapter exploring Material Efficiency, or design and management for manufacture to provide the services we need with the least production of materials
  • Recent news-clips from the world press  that help place materials issues into a broader context.are incorporated into all chapters
  • End-of-chapter exercises have been greatly expanded
  • The datasheets of Chapter 15 have been updated and expanded to include natural and man-made fibers


Materials and the Environment: Eco-Informed Material Choice, Second Edition, explores human dependence on materials and its environmental consequences. It provides perspective, background, methods, and data for thinking about and designing with materials to minimize their environmental impact.

Organized into 15 chapters, the book looks at the history of our increasing dependence on materials and energy. It first explains where materials come from and how they are used in a variety of industries, along with their life cycle and their relationship to energy and carbon. It then examines controls and economic instruments that hinder the use of engineering materials, considers sustainability from a materials perspective, and highlights the importance of low-carbon power and material efficiency. It also discusses the mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of engineering metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, and natural materials in relation to environmental issues. This book will help students of Engineering and Materials Science, as well as materials scientists or and engineers in analyzing and responding to environmental concerns.


Students of Engineering, Materials Science and Industrial/Product Design; Materials & Industrial Engineers; Product Designers

Michael Ashby

Royal Society Research Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University and Former Visiting Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art, London, UK Mike Ashby is sole or lead author of several of Elsevier’s top selling engineering textbooks, including Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design, Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, Materials and the Environment, and Materials: Engineering, Science, Processing and Design. He is also coauthor of the books Engineering Materials 1&2, and Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor Emeritus, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

View additional works by Michael F. Ashby

Materials and the Environment, 2nd Edition

Preface and acknowledgments

Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction and synopsis

1.2 Materials: a brief history

1.3 Learned dependency: the reliance on nonrenewable materials

1.4 Materials and the environment

1.5 Summary and conclusions

1.6 Further reading

1.7 Exercises

Chapter 2. Resource consumption and its drivers

2.1 Introduction and synopsis

2.2 Where do materials come from?

2.3 Resource consumption

2.4 Exponential growth and doubling times

2.5 Reserves, the resource base, and resource life

2.6 The materials-energy-carbon triangle

2.7 Summary and conclusions

2.8 Further reading

2.9 Exercises

Chapter 3. The material life cycle

3.1 Introduction and synopsis

3.2 The design process

3.3 The materials life cycle

3.4 Life-cycle assessment: details and difficulties

3.5 Streamlined LCA and eco-auditing

3.6 The strategy

3.7 Summary and conclusions

3.8 Further reading

3.9 Appendix: software for LCA

3.10 Exercises

Chapter 4. End of first life

4.1 Introduction and synopsis

4.2 What determines product life?

4.3 End-of-first-life options

4.4 The problem of packaging

4.5 Recycling—resurrecting materials

4.6 Summary and conclusions

4.7 Further reading

4.8 Appendix: designations used in recycle marks

4.9 Exercises

Chapter 5. The long reach of legislation

5.1 Introduction and synopsis

5.2 Growing awareness and legislative response

5.3 International treaties, protocols, and conventions

5.4 National legislation: standards and directives

5.5 Economic instruments: taxes, subsidies, and trading schemes

5.6 The consequences

5.7 Summary and conclusions

5.8 Further reading

5.9 Exercises

Chapter 6. Eco-data

6.1 Introduction and synopsis

6.2 Data precision: recalibrating expectations

6.3 The eco-attributes of materials

6.4 Energy and CO2 footprints of energy, transport, and use

6.5 Exploring the data: property charts

6.6 Summary and conclusions

6.7 Further reading

6.8 Exercises

Chapter 7. Eco-audits and eco-audit tools

7.1 Introduction and synopsis

7.2 Eco-audits

7.3 Computer-aided eco-auditing

7.4 Summary and conclusions

7.5 Further reading

7.6 Appendix: eco-audit tools

7.7 Exercises

Chapter 8. Case studies

8.1 Introduction and synopsis

8.2 Reusable and disposable cups

Further reading

8.3 Grocery bags

Further reading

8.4 An electric kettle

8.5 A coffee maker

8.6 An A-rated washing machine

Further reading

8.7 Ricoh imagio MF6550 copier

Further reading

8.8 A portable space heater

8.9 Ceramic pottery kilns

8.10 Auto bumpers—exploring substitution

8.11 Family car—comparing material energy with use energy

Further reading

8.12 Computer-assisted audits: a hair dryer

8.13 Summary and conclusions

8.14 Exercises

Exercises using the CES eco-audit tool

Chapter 9. Material selection strategies

9.1 Introduction and synopsis

9.2 The selection strategy: choosing a car

9.3 Principles of materials selection

9.4 Selection criteria and property charts

9.5 Using indices for scaling

9.6 Resolving conflicting objectives: trade-off methods

9.7 Seven useful charts

9.8 Computer-aided selection

9.9 Summary and conclusions

9.10 Further reading

9.11 Appendix: deriving material indices

9.12 Exercises

Exercises using CES Edu Level 2 Eco

Chapter 10. Eco-informed materials selection

10.1 Introduction and synopsis

10.2 Which bottle is best? Selection per unit of function

10.3 Systematic eco-selection: carbonated-water bottles

10.4 Structural materials for buildings

10.5 Initial and recurring embodied energy of buildings

10.6 Heating and cooling (1): refrigeration

10.7 Heating and cooling (2): materials for passive solar heating

10.8 Heating and cooling (3): kilns and cyclic heating

10.9 Transportation (1): introduction

10.10 Transportation (2): crash barriers—matching material to purpose

10.11 Transportation (3): materials for light weight structures

10.12 Transportation (4): material substitution for eco-efficient design

10.13 Summary and conclusions

10.14 Further reading

10.15 Exercises

Exercises using the CES Edu software

Chapter 11. Sustainability

11.1 Introduction and synopsis

11.2 The concept of sustainable development

11.3 The ecological metaphor

11.4 Material sustainability

11.5 Renewable materials

11.6 Bio-derived materials

11.7 Summary and conclusions

11.8 Further reading

11.9 Exercises

Chapter 12. Materials for low-carbon power

12.1 Introduction and synopsis

12.2 The resource intensity of power sources—the big picture

12.3 Conventional fossil-fuel power: gas and coal

12.4 Nuclear power

12.5 Solar energy: thermal, thermoelectric, and photovoltaics

12.6 Fuel cells

12.7 Wind power

12.8 Hydropower

12.9 Wave power

12.10 Tidal power

12.11 Geothermal power

12.12 Biomass

12.13 Summary and conclusions

12.14 Further reading

12.15 Appendix 1: Definitions of properties

12.16 Appendix 2: Approximate material intensities for power systems

12.17 Exercises

Chapter 13. Material efficiency

13.1 Introduction and synopsis

13.2 What is the point of materials efficiency?

13.3 Increasing material efficiency (1): engineering solutions

13.4 Increasing material efficiency (2): legislation and social change

13.5 What makes material efficiency difficult?

13.6 Mechanisms to promote material efficiency

13.7 Summary and conclusions

13.8 Further reading

13.9 Exercises

Chapter 14. The bigger picture

14.1 Introduction and synopsis

14.2 Material value

14.3 Carbon, energy, and GDP

14.4 Does GDP measure national wealth?6

14.5 Forces for change: threats7

14.6 Opportunities

14.7 Summary and conclusions

14.8 Further reading

14.9 Exercises

Chapter 15. Material profiles

15.1 Introduction and synopsis

15.2 Metals and alloys

15.3 Polymers

15.4 Ceramics and glasses

15.5 Hybrids: composites, foams, wood, and paper

15.6 Man-made and natural fibers

APPENDIX. Useful numbers and conversions

A.1 Introduction

A.2 Physical constants in SI units

A.3 Conversion of units, general

A.4 Stress and pressure

A.5 Energy and power

A.6 Fuels

A.7 Energy prices (2011 data)

A.8 Further reading


Quotes and reviews

"I think this is likely to be a very successful text, since it clearly fills an important niche in engineering texts dealing with materials. I have been quite frustrated with the lack of real data available, when discussing how to design products more responsibly  ...I especially like the emphasis here on the fact that there are no easy answers." --Blaine Lilly, The Ohio State University
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