University of Cambridge > > Engineering - Mechanics Colloquia Research Seminars > Resource Efficiency: delivering future energy and material services with less environmental impact.

Resource Efficiency: delivering future energy and material services with less environmental impact.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Hilde Hambro.

Resource is the stuff we extract from nature, refine and react, push and prod, and then package and deliver, to satisfy the demands of our modern society. Resources include: fossil fuels, which are extracted from the ground, burnt, and transformed into heat and light in buildings, or motion in vehicles; mineral ores, which are dug up, reacted, refined and shaped into a multitude of products; water, taken from rivers, lakes and underground reservoirs, purified and transported, to quench our thirst, water plants and wash away the dirt; nutrients, which when combined with sunlight and water, produce food to eat; and so on.

The problem is that our demand for material and energy services is causing strain on planet Earth. This can be in the form of resource shortages, but more commonly as damaging by-products, with the release greenhouse gas emissions from combustion of fossil fuels presenting a serious threat to the long-term stability of the climate.

Resource efficiency measures how good we are at transforming resources into useful goods and services. The metric is simples in concept: comparing the useful output to total input. But there is much debate about what measure of useful output to use for the numerator, and what measure of resource input to use for the denominator.

A more resource efficient society will deliver the desired energy and material services, using fewer resource inputs. And if the absolute demand for energy and material services can be held constant, or reduced, then resource efficiency leads to less stress on the planet.

This talk is part of the Engineering - Mechanics Colloquia Research Seminars series.

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