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Application of Industrial Ecology Concepts in Solar Energy Heat Systems in Mexico
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The increased understanding of the growing environmental harm linked to today's throughput industry reaches politics and the general public more and more. This study objects to increase resource use of materials and reduce the associated environmental impact. It is being conducted in the solar energy sector of the middle-income country, Mexico, on the basis of an underlying sample company. The chosen concept to achieve this goal is with Industrial Ecology, which combines several other approaches like an umbrella, far-reaching and represents an alternative to counteract the problems today´s and future generations are facing. Application-based approaches like Circular Economy, Waste Management, Loop Closing, and Industrial Symbiosis are taken into consideration to reduce the use of virgin materials and lessen the environmental impact of industrial activities in the middle-income country Mexico.

Existing definitions and provided possibilities of Industrial Ecology and its included approaches were studied to set the base of the investigations together with a literature review of the manufacturing and the importance of small and medium-sized companies in Mexico. Primary data collection regarding company-specific information and their procedures were carried out as follows; after the preparation of the plans and schemes for the different areas of the company's value chain, the internal processes, the material flow, as well as the transportation were examined in more detail. Together with interviews of the company's managers, plans were verified and potentials for improvement towards sustainable development were identified. Using the previously acquired information of the considered approaches of IE, development opportunities in all areas of the value chain as well as the external collaboration possibilities could now be developed.

The results show that the emissions of the example company mainly arise in the production of hot water storage tanks and solar collector frames, The implementation of the measures could also lead to more efficient use of materials, improved use of infrastructure, and reveals great potential of improvements in particular in industrial symbiosis. There are various opportunities to achieve environmental goals through new collaboration and networking. Improvements in the use of available materials, the recycling policy, as well as the transport of products and residues to and from the installation site could be achieved for the sample company. By demonstrating external cooperation opportunities such as transport or service sharing and their benefits to the participating companies, it has been shown that it would be possible to create an innovative and sustainable competitive advantage and to positively influence the financing pattern even for middle-income countries.

The outcomes of the study show that with IE and the associated application-based approaches it is also practically possible to achieve further development of companies towards sustainable production and development. The implementation of the concepts of IE known from literature is generally more complicated in practice than it is described in theory. Also, because literature just give a rough picture of how such systems should look like but they do not provide any specific details. Nevertheless, it has been shown that it is also feasible in the case of middle-income countries to establish and organize themselves sustainably as a company for the future. In addition to the internal optimization measures of the business, also the exploration of the external possibilities of Industrial Symbiosis and collaboration are recommended.

Abstract [sv]

Det största problemet på jorden idag är att naturresurserna är ändliga och att det bara finns en atmosfär att bo i. Vi måste hantera produktionen och utsläppen varsamt för att få en hållbar värld. Industriell ekologi (IE) är ett holistiskt koncept för att designa om industriella aktiviteter. Det är baserat på antagandet att miljöpåverkan från mänskliga aktiviteter måste minskas. Konceptet beskriver en möjlig lösning för dagens industriella och sociala dödläge genom att använda naturliga ekosystem som förebild. Den växande förståelsen för den stegrande miljöpåverkan som är associerad med moderna materialflöden från industrin har nått politiken och den allmänna massan med ökad hastighet. Dessutom har Cirkulär Ekonomi uppmärksammats mer under senaste tiden för att minska industriella miljöproblem. Även om litteraturen är i ett tidigt stadium verkar IE erbjuda värdefulla insikter som förenar användbara miljöaspekter.

Det finns begränsat med studier om IE i industrin, speciellt när det kommer till ett medelinkomstland som Mexiko. Detta arbete fokuserar på tillämpningen av IE-koncept med tillhörande aspekter för att minimera miljöpåverkan från industriella aktiviteter och minska användningen av jungfruliga material. Det resulterar i hållbar utveckling för ett exempelföretag som undersöks, skapande av samarbeten för industriell symbios (IS) och ett hänsynstagande för hållbart företagande (BM). The valda aspekterna är först introducerade för att visa dess generella potential. Sedan för att skapa en grund, introduceras signifikansen av små och medelstora företag (‘pequeña y mediana empresa’ - PyMEs) i Mexiko, fördelar i konkurrenskraft genom IE och miljöpåverkan från sådana fabriker. Dessa steg är utförda i en litteraturstudie. I nästa del inhämtas företagets specifika data för deras processer och miljö genom semi-strukturerade intervjuer och rundturer i driften. Genom att använda information av utvecklingspotential i alla steg av värdekedjan kan nu externa samarbetsmöjligheter. Dessutom är genomförbarheten för åtgärder hos liknande företag granskade. Till sist föreslår studien framtida lösningar för exempelföretaget för att skapa fler hållbara industriella aktiviteter och för att stödja ytterligare IE-användning inom industrin.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 63
Series
TRITA-ABE-MBT ; 19633
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-256554OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-256554DiVA, id: diva2:1346600
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Examiners
Available from: 2019-08-28 Created: 2019-08-28 Last updated: 2019-08-28Bibliographically approved

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