Three BiSSL Student-Led Papers Accepted for the 2019 CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference

Congratulations to three of our BiSSL graduate students, Varun Panyam, Tirth Dave, and Colton Brehm, for the acceptance of each of their conference papers to the 26th CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference on Advancing Industrial Sustainability, to be held at Purdue University May 2019.

The evolution of power systems has recently seen a strong increase in renewable energy integration. This evolution has resulted in bidirectional pathways with two-way exchanges between the grid and consumers that is beginning to resemble the cyclic organization of food webs. Ecologically-similar cycling of materials and energy in industrial networks has previously been shown to improve network efficiency and reduce costs. The cyclic organization of food webs is proposed here as a design principle to quantify the effectiveness of two-way connections between the grid and consumers. The presence of ecosystem-like cycling in traditional power grid networks is investigated using the ecological metrics cyclicity and cycling index. Two hypothetical 5-bus grids are modified to replicate the two-way exchanges of real power systems with consumer renewable energy generation. The results show a positive correlation between increased structural cycling in grids and reliability improvements measured by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standard N-1 contingency analysis. These results suggest that the metrics cyclicity and cycling index can play a role in quantifying and improving the sustainability of power grids.

“An ecosystem perspective for the design of sustainable power systems” first authored by Varuneswara Panyam

Economic, environmental, and social advantages have been achieved over the years through byproducts and waste exchanges between industries. These Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) are touted to be ecologically similar, however when they are analyzed using Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) techniques it has been found that they do not successfully mimic analogous ecosystems. ENA coupled with average food webs characteristics are used here to create a bio-inspired design optimization for the water distribution network of the Kalundborg EIP in Denmark. The bio-inspired solution is compared to a cost-based solution to illustrate what the former can offer beyond a conventional approach. Both solutions similarly minimize freshwater consumption, however the bio-inspired solution has additional benefits that suggest a more sustainable and robust design, such as the ability to maintain network function in the event of a connection losses. The results suggest that consumption and cost reductions alone may not be the best optimization route.

“Bio-inspired design for resilient water distribution networks” first authored by Tirth Dave

Industrial Ecology uses ecological systems as a guide for improving the sustainability of complex industrial systems. Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) have gained support as a solution that seeks to simultaneously reduce environmental burdens and promote economic interests by exchanging materials and energy between industries to their mutual benefit. Recent studies have focused on drawing relations between food webs (FWs) and EIPs to improve the sustainability of the latter using ecological metrics, such as the level of cycling or average connections between actors. This study incorporates a new ecological metric, nestedness, into the discussion of sustainable design for EIPs. The association of nestedness with mutualistic ecological networks supports its application to EIP design. The work here improves the understanding of holistic network structure with the goal of improving future design decisions for EIPs with purposeful placement of material and energy flows.

“Designing eco-industrial parks in a nested structure to mimic mutualistic ecological networks” first authored by Colton Brehm

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