Join us on your lunch break at Virtual 4TH SPACE over six days in July to hear from Concordia students and professors as they discuss their research on sustainability in general and the climate emergency in particular.
Originally scheduled as part of the now postponed cross-disciplinary conference Sustainability and the Climate Crisis, each of these six talks will highlight the varied research Concordians are currently undertaking to tackle the unfolding environmental emergency.
In cold climates, precautions must be taken to prevent water from freezing and forming ice blockages in above-ground water distribution systems. Failure to do so makes pipes vulnerable to bursting. Conventionally, electric heating cables are installed around the pipes to replace the heat lost through the pipe and prevent liquid freezing. As an alternative, multi-layered coatings that include a conductive and electrically insulating layer can be applied directly to pipes to provide the same freeze protection functionality, but with increased energy efficiency. We present the results of a comparative environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) of the two systems. When the systems are powered by non-renewable sources, use-phase electricity consumption is the predominant driver of environmental impact for both systems. In these cases, the more energy-efficient multi-layered coating system is the environmentally preferable option. When the systems are powered by renewable sources, production is a more important driver of environmental impact. In these cases, the conventional heating cable is environmentally preferable. Based on this finding, we developed a mathematical approach to determine the environmentally preferable system for different Canadian regions based on climate conditions and energy mix. While use-phase electricity consumption dominates overall environmental impact, a detailed analysis shows that the environmental impacts of the production and end-of-life phases vary considerably between the two systems and are driven by material selection, production processes, and recyclability. Taken together, the mathematical approach and detailed analysis provide surface engineers and scientists with an understanding of the potential environmental advantages that can be realized and the environmental challenges that must be overcome to advance more sustainable multi-layered coating systems.
Zeynab Yousefzadeh: Using life cycle assessment to identify opportunities for improving the environmental performance in emerging technologies: The case of thermal sprayed coating system for water distribution pipes freeze protection.