Marc Fry1 Hannah Melia1 Michael Ashby2

1, Granta Design Ltd, Cambridge, , United Kingdom
2, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, , United Kingdom

Material choice effects the performance of products and their impact on the environment and society. Although damage to the environment and society is not usually priced into products, companies are increasingly interested in minimizing risk; to their reputations, and to their supply chains. Engineers of the future need to learn how to approach complex trade-offs of price, performance, risk and impact in their material selections. This talk will illustrate data, tools, methodologies and teaching resources that can be used to help Materials and Engineering students gain knowledge and skills in this area.

The Granta Eco Audit Tool [1] supports the introduction of the concepts of circular economy and is widely used in teaching materials and engineering courses, as well as in capstone project work. Its methodology is particularly useful at the conceptual design stage and is comparable with a streamlined life-cycle inventory. The Eco Audit Tool enables the running of scenarios with different feedstock, processing, and end-of-life options (including reuse). The Eco Audit analyses draw on the data on materials and processes available in the software and on the bill of materials from users. The visual outputs present estimated energy use, CO2 equivalent emissions and cost at each stage of the product life. Warning indicators for toxic substances and critical materials help in the process of material selection for product design projects.

The Sustainable development 5-step methodology [2] developed by Prof. Michael F. Ashby and Dr. Didac Ferrer, which helps students structure their analyses of the sustainability of a technological development will also be presented. Drawing on data in CES EduPack [1] the methodology encourages students to identify the scope of a development and the stakeholders involved, before fact finding on different aspects and pulling together the newly gained knowledge into a considered opinion.

Alongside the materials selection tools that are a standard part of CES EduPack and can illustrate trade-offs in price and performance, these tools and methodologies help students see the bigger picture around their material decisions.