Prospective Modeling in Industrial Ecology: Future Development

Future Applications and Model Development

of Prospective Models within Industrial Ecology

A major goal of prospective modeling is to assess bundles of mitigation and adaptation strategies and investigate whether the different strategies together can transform socioeconomic metabolism to a more sustainable state. Studying strategy bundles reveals which strategies may yield co-benefits and which ones counteract each other, which is an important information for decision-makers. Bundled assessment leads to “big picture” scenarios for a feasible future, from which environmental, economic, and social performance indicators for individual strategies can be derived. These indicators can then be monitored during real implementation to ensure that the impact of the strategies is as intended. Performance indicators may be material, product, industry sector, or region specific.

Strategy bundles affect different materials and energy carriers, which are substitutable to some extent. Flexibility in the choice of materials and energy carriers allows us to design a more resilient and potentially more sustainable SEM, but it also represents a challenge for prospective modeling, as models need to provide insights into the potential consequences of a wide spectrum of material and energy supply choices.

The cycles of different materials are tightly coupled at several places: Base minerals of different materials often occur together; they are coproduced, often with fixed ratios on certain sites. At higher stages of fabrication, materials are mixed again into compound materials and alloys, products consist of many different materials, and finally, waste streams contain material mixes. Assessments of individual metals on the small scale can neglect this coupling, as it can be assumed that the rest of the economy is able to supply or absorb ancillary flows and a credit or discredit for this service is given by allocation. In prospective modeling of society's future metabolism at full scale, however, the tight coupling between different material cycles ultimately necessitates parallel modeling of different materials across products and over time. Only then can one assess whether and how system-wide supply can meet system-wide demand for different chemical elements at different stages of the material cycles. Supply-demand imbalances may arise under business-as-usual assumptions, as studies for aluminum (Modaresi and Müller 2012) and rare earth metals (Elshkaki and Graedel 2014) show, which points out the necessity to design future material cycles from a systems' perspective.

For dynamic MFA, several trends that point toward comprehensive assessment of multi-material product portfolios are already emerging. One trend goes toward a higher level of detail of material types (alloys) and products studied to better understand quality issues in the recycling systems of different materials (Løvik et al. 2014; Ohno et al. 2014). Another trend goes toward modeling of co-occurrence, co-mining, and co-production of mineral and metal resources and production systems and energy-ore grade relationships (Graedel et al. 2013; Northey et al. 2014). Finally, there are recent advances in the modeling of the fate of the end-oflife materials from the waste management industries back into new products using Markov chains and supply-driven I/O modeling (Duchin and Levine 2013; Nakamura et al. 2014).

The trend of using I/O models for prospective assessments is also likely to continue. Service-driven modeling, or – if stocks are used as proxy for services – stockdriven modeling, can be used (a) to determine the final demand vector for I/O models (Kagawa et al. 2015) and (b) to determine the Leontief-A matrix from an age-cohortbased model of the productive capital stock (Pauliuk et al. 2015). Multilayer modeling (Schmidt et al. 2012) can be used to cover different materials in a common I/O framework, and when building I/O models of future industrial systems, the by-product technology construct can be applied to avoid allocation (Majeau-Bettez et al. 2014). A major application of the so-obtained I/O models is the prospective attributional assessment of certain quanta of final demand to measure strategy performance and derive policy targets related to specific transformation strategies.

 
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