Our research employs methods from industrial ecology and systems optimization to quantify the environmental impacts of energy and material systems. We are interested in expanding energy systems analysis and life cycle assessment methods to increase functionality in complex systems, offer insights into environmental design, and to make the methods more industry and policy relevant. Our work aims to be problem focused, often relying on interdisciplinary teams to more fully address challenging environmental problems.
Environmental Impacts of Energy Systems
An overarching objective of our research program is to quantify environmental impacts and operational performance of the power sector upon introduction of new technologies and energy policies. The foundation for these analyses is a dispatch model of the Eastern Interconnection of the United States. Most life cycle assessment research on the power sector relies on overly simplified system representations that do not realistically reflect generator or grid behavior, nor do they typically offer the functionality to examine changing system assumptions (e.g., fuel prices, new environmental regulations). Our research overcomes these challenges by employing a comprehensive economic dispatch model that reflects generator efficiencies at multiple load points, interzonal transmission congestion, and unit commitment and dispatch decisions.
Environmental Impacts of Material Systems
While integral to industrialization, the anthropogenic use of metals is a major contributor to environmental impact. Ongoing research in this space seeks to improve life cycle assessment methods in evaluating the environmental impacts of material use. Previous research, conducted with the Yale Stocks and Flows Project, used material flow analysis to develop multi-scale cycles for anthropogenic metals.