Events & Media



"From Climate Killer to Sustainability Hero?
A Life-Cycle Assessment Perspective on Utilizing Carbon Dioxide"

André Bardow
Chair of Technical Thermodynamics
RWTH Aachen University, Germany

November 20, 2015
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Bren 1414

"Professor Bardow's talk presents a rare opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in carbon capture and utilization happening in Europe."

— Bren School Professor Sangwon Suh

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the molecule most produced by mankind. Usually created as an unwanted byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, CO2 is typically released into the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming. Recently, however, the view has been shifting as researchers seek ways of utilizing CO2 that transform it from harmful waste into sustainable carbon feedstock for the chemical industry.

In this talk, we will introduce the main concepts of CO2 utilization. We employ Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) to discuss the environmental consequences of utilizing CO2, including the actual benefits to be expected in terms of climate change. We then use the analysis to identify methodological challenges for LCA regarding accounting for emissions timing, market effects, and uncertainty. Finally, we provide a perspective on integrating LCA into the process of engineering novel processes for using carbon dioxide. Such a design framework ensures not only that CO2 is used, but also that actual CO2 emissions are reduced over the life cycle.

AndrĂ©é Bardow is full professor and institute head at the Chair of Technical Thermodynamics at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. After studying mechanical engineering and majoring in chemical engineering at RWTH and Carnegie Mellon University, he received a PhD in process systems engineering from RWTH. He was a postdoctoral researcher at ETH in Zurich before becoming assistant and later associate professor in the Department of Process & Energy at TU Delft, The Netherlands. In 2010, he returned to RWTH. The scope of his work there spans all scales of thermodynamics, from molecules to the plant level. In his research, he aims to integrate life-cycle thinking into engineering design for sustainable energy and chemical industries.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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