BiSSL PhD student Abheek Chatterjee and alumn Colton Brehm (MS) just had their full-length research paper accepted and published in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling! The paper, titled “A Quantitative Benefits Evaluation of Ecologically-Inspired Nested Architectures for Industrial Networks,” investigates the use of ecological nestedness – a structural characteristic of ecological food webs, to guide the design of eco-industrial parks and other resource networks to improve it’s ability to survive network disturbances AND to guide inter-actor connections based on resource cost and distance between actors.
You can find a high level summary of the paper written by Texas A&M Engineering’s Vanada Suresh here: “Following nature’s cue, researchers build successful, sustainable industrial networks”
Abstract: “Industrial Symbiosis (IS), inspired by the highly effective resource utilization found in nature, advocates byproduct-exchange partnerships between industries to reduce raw material use, emissions, and waste generation while promoting economic growth. Ecological research on mutualistic ecosystems (such as plant-pollinator networks) has found a connection between high values of nestedness, a unique linkage distribution strategy, and effective resource utilization. The present work is the first to test the benefits of nested architectures for IS goals, a characteristic thus far overlooked in bio-inspired IS efforts. A generated large dataset of hypothetical-realistic Industrial Water Networks spanning the entire nestedness domain shows that highly nested designs significantly reduce resource consumption. Circumstances where these savings outweigh any additional infrastructure and operation costs are also shown, highlighting that low to moderate resource abundance and manageable geographical dispersion between participating industries (conditions that commonly generate interest in IS) are particularly favorable for nested architectures. Ecologically-similarly nested IS networks, especially those with highly connected high-throughput industries, are also found to have a reduction in negative impacts during pipeline disruptions. The results provide promising evidence that the principle of nestedness can be a powerful quantitative bio-inspired design guideline for IS, capable of simultaneously addressing environmental, economic, and resiliency concerns.”Chatterjee, A., Brehm, C., & Layton, A. (2021). A Quantitative Benefits Evaluation of Ecologically-Inspired Nested Architectures for Industrial Networks. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 167. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2021.105423