November 30-December 5, 2014 | Boston
Meeting Chairs: Husam N. Alshareef, Amit Goyal, Gerardo Morell, José A. Varela, In Kyeong Yoo
Without a doubt, industry has created an amazing variety of molecules and materials that go into the products that are a large part of our modern way of life. For a majority of the chemicals and compounds outside of the pharmaceutical industry, we have a limited amount of information upon which to make reasonable decisions about their toxicity to humans or the environment, their degradability (biological or otherwise), our ability to recycle or reuse them, or their renewability.Society is heavily dependent on the products of the chemical industry; however, most of us know very little about where the basic building blocks come from, at what social and environmental cost, and if there are any elements facing critical supply constraints. For many elements that are of critical importance, like those used in catalysis, electronics and energy production, we are taking a large amount of mass, concentrating the desired elements and dispersing these same elements into a form that is sometimes difficult to recover and reuse. This talk will set the context for the problem, discuss several compelling examples where key material life cycles need to be closed, and discuss a way forward.
Energy, water use, and environmental impacts are among the first topics that researchers consider in sustainable materials development. However, minimizing the negative human health impacts of materials and their production processes is just as critical to ensuring the safety of current and future generations.Spurred by recent industry actions, such as internal retailer policies (e.g. chemical "red lists") and green building rating systems like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) that are incorporating more stringent requirements around materials impacts, manufacturers are increasingly expected to account for both the environmental and human health aspects of their products. Because of this, they are looking for ways to redesign or reformulate their products to meet the needs of the changing marketplace. In some cases, manufacturers have difficulty finding substitutions for chemical and material ingredients deemed unsuitable due to their negative effects.This situation presents both new considerations for researchers creating novel materials destined for the marketplace, as well as new opportunities for research into safer material chemistries and processing methods.This talk will make a case for human health considerations being an integral, yet oft-overlooked, component of sustainable materials development. It will highlight important governmental policies and regulations in this arena, recent industry actions impacting environmental and human health considerations of materials, and present new opportunities for research.
There has been a recent move by scientists and engineers in the United States to tailor some of their work for developing countries and areas. The idea is that engineering can help to meet some of the basic needs of impoverished people, raise their standard of living, and create more sustainable communities. Past projects have included attempts to provide off-the-grid energy, clean water, and wastewater treatment and/or disposal. The interest in this topic can be seen in the variety of efforts to outline engineering strategies for the Millennium Development Goals and the fact that it is increasingly difficult to find a major university that does not have an active Engineers without Borders program. Unfortunately the history of the modern world&’s attempts to address impoverished areas through technology transfer is riddled with failures. Sometimes the technologies sit unused weeks after they are introduced. Sometimes the technologies disrupt the social fabric of the community. Problems like these arise not because the motives of the engineers were necessarily bad, but because their training is mainly in technical areas and only a small part of the overall problem is technical in nature. There are rare occasions when technologies mesh with the infrastructure, social frameworks, and needs of the community to enable positive lasting change. These successes come only when the designers involved understand the people they are working with. And even then a fair amount of luck is needed.This presentation will cover the basic lessons developed for a training program designed to help engineers and scientists interested in addressing the problems of t\he developing world. The two day workshop has already been held at Georgia Tech and the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and by the time of the fall MRS meeting it will have been held at Concordia in Montreal as well as Arizona State University. The workshop does not give participants everything they need to k