Waste to Value: Incorporating Industrial Symbiosis for Sustainable Infrastructure

EPA Grant Number: SU831810
Title: Waste to Value: Incorporating Industrial Symbiosis for Sustainable Infrastructure
Investigators: Ramaswami, Anu , Clark, Tom , Rens, Kevin , Wright, Sean
Institution: University of Colorado at Denver
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Technical Challenge: Investigators will examine the role of technology innovations as well as environmental justice (EJ) obligations in initiating and implementing urban-industrial symbiosis in Commerce City (CC), CO. The sustainability challenge involves: 1) organizing area industries to identify and exchange industrial wastes; 2) developing innovative technologies that match the identified waste streams with beneficial end uses; and 3) coupling both waste energy and material streams with the end uses. Two such waste-to-value opportunities will be studied: a) incorporation of fly ash by-product from local fossil fuel burning power plants into high volume fly ash (HVFA) concrete, and b) reprocessing used engine oil from local trucking operations into a usable product using industrial waste energy.

Major Innovations in this project are: a) concrete mixes incorporating recycled materials and higher-than-conventional percentages of fly ash; b) innovative processing and purification method for spent engine oil reprocessing into a useful end product; c) energy for this process will be supplied by Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology, harnessing waste energy from local refineries using microturbines and/or fuel cells; d) waste solids from the waste oil reprocessing will be incorporated into the concrete; and e) life cycle analysis (LCA) will be performed on all aspects of the project.

Sustainability (P3): The revenues and/or materials and energy generated from waste-to-value processes will benefit the community in CC, as part of local industries' fulfillment of EJ obligations to a heavily industrialized, polluted and economically depressed city. The technologies implemented will result in more efficient industrial use of energy and materials, reducing raw materials and energy consumption, and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and landfill use. Successful establishment of industrial symbiotic relationships will set a precedent for similar interactions in industrial communities worldwide, by demonstrating the economic benefits of symbiosis to industry and community.

Implementation/Evaluation: A waste audit will be completed for CC industries and potential waste-to-value opportunities will be identified. Thorough literature research of suitable existing process technologies will be conducted, and design innovations will be tested in laboratory pilot projects. LCAs will be conducted and results will be measured to determine the economic and environmental impacts of the symbiotic designs.

P3 for Education: The knowledge gained from the project will be integrated into new and existing CU-Denver courses as part of its Urban Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering Program (USIEP). Topics included in these courses will be EJ concepts and socio-economic impacts of industrial symbiosis. Graduate students working on the project will gain first-hand experience of real-world applications of green engineering principles, with results disseminated to the public through demonstrations, and showcase models.

Supplemental Keywords:

life cycle analysis, innovative technology, waste reduction, industrial symbiosis, Rocky Mountain region, industrial ecology, Colorado, Region VIII, environmental justice, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, waste reduction, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Economics and Business, Environmental Engineering, life cycle analysis, energy conservation, industrial design for environment, sustainable development, waste minimization, waste recycling, environmental justice, fly ash, alternative products, environmental conscious construction, alternative materials, concrete , innovative technology, life cycle assessment, construction material, environmentally conscious design

Relevant Websites:

Waste to valueexit EPA
Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report