University of Freiburg, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Industrial Ecology Group
Metals are vital to modern society. At the same time, metal production contributes to resource depletion, environmental degradation in mining countries, and climate change. A wide spectrum of technologies and strategies to decouple the services provided by materials from the negative impacts of their production exists. It includes: recycling, alternative production technologies, use of biomass and renewable energy, material efficiency, and material sufficiency. To quantify the potential and side-effects of the different decoupling and mitigation strategies for metal cycles prospective assessment models are needed. The trend in material cycle modelling goes towards economic-engineering models of coupled metal cycles to assess a wide spectrum of material efficiency and substitution strategies. Moreover, scenarios for metal cycles need to be linked to global macro-scenarios to make the former more relevant and the latter more consistent.
The task for the PhD project is to extend state-of-the-art material cycle modelling approaches by:
- including the cost layer
- introducing coupling with other material cycles
- better linking material cycles with end-use sectors (buildings, transportation devices, and products)
- integrating material cycle models into general macroeconomic scenario modelling, including integrated assessment modelling
With the new model framework the following research questions shall be answered in form of scientific publications:
What are likely demand and recycling levels for bulk materials (cement, steel, aluminium, copper, plastics) under different socioeconomic, climate and resource policy scenarios?
What are the likely future environmental impacts of material cycles under different socioeconomic, climate and resource policy scenarios?
To what extent do the detailed material cycle models indicate that different policy mixes or emissions reductions schemes are needed compared to the suggestions provided by the more aggregated scenario models?
Methods that will be used:
The main modelling task is to integrate material flow cost accounting into integrated assessment models. The GCAM integrated assessment model shall be used to generate the background scenarios. The resulting foreground material cycle modelling tool should be a general open source toolbox for studying coupled metal cycles from the different sustainability perspectives.
The candidate gets access to an international network of leading experts on the prospective assessment of sustainable development strategies for materials. Funding for international conferences and for a research stay with integrated assessment modellers is available.
Expected profile of the candidates' qualification:
The successful candidate holds an MSc degree in industrial ecology, environmental or natural sciences, chemical or environmental engineering, or similar subjects with a strong quantitative environmental profile. Experience with a higher programming language (C, Python, or Matlab) is essential. The candidate needs to display genuine interest in the scientific assessment of sustainable development strategies and in the dissemination of scientific results to policy makers and the general public.
Very good knowledge of English is required, knowledge of German is a slight advantage. The willingness to work in a team and good teamwork skills are taken for granted.
The project language is English.
Applicants please provide the following documents:
+ a 2-3 page motivation letter where you explain your understanding of the problem and give an outline of the work that needs to be done in order to solve it (in English, can be combined with the cover letter)
+ Your CV (in English or German)
+ A copy of your MSc certificate (and BSc certificate if applicable) (in English or German)
+ Elshkaki, A., Graedel, T. E., Ciacci, L. & Reck, B. Copper demand, supply, and associated energy use to 2050. Glob. Environ. Chang. 39, 305-315 (2016).
+ van Ruijven, B. J. et al. Long-term model-based projections of energy use and CO2 emissions from the global steel and cement industries. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 112, 15-36 (2016).
+ Milford, R. L., Pauliuk, S., Allwood, J. M. & Müller, D. B. The Roles of Energy and Material Efficiency in Meeting Steel Industry CO2 Targets. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47, 3455-3462 (2013).
+ Pauliuk, S. and E.G. Hertwich. 2016. Prospective models of society-s future metabolism - What industrial ecology has to contribute. In Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology, ed by. Roland Clift and Angela Duckmann, 21-43. Dordrecht, The Netherlands.: Springer, Netherlands.
+ Pauliuk, S. & Müller, D. B. The role of in-use stocks in the social metabolism and in climate change mitigation. Glob. Environ. Chang. 24, 132-142 (2014).