ECMM163 Sustainable Engineering

ECMM163 Sustainable Engineering

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ECMM163 Sustainable Engineering

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ECMM163 Sustainable Engineering

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Course Code: ECMM163
University: University Of Exeter is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: United Kingdom


1. Determine how an industry could be made more sustainable in terms of carbon emissions.
2. How much renewable energy could be created to offset the fuel required by the UK’s aviation industry.

It is important to measure theimpact a product has on the environment and for that reason, it is necessary to calculate all the input and output throughout the life cycle of the product. Inother words, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is required to measure the impact a product has on the environment after considering all the stages.
The industry to be studied in this analysis is the crop production industry. This study is aimed to evaluate the impact the agricultural industry has on the environment and to suggest ways to reduce the harmful impacts. In order to calculate the impact, it is necessary to measure the energy required to manufacture the final product. This assists in determining the amount of emission of carbon and other harmful by-products during the production procedure.
Crop production like every other industry requires inputs for operation. The raw materials included in the process of crop production include the land that is required for cultivation. Livestock also counts as raw materials sometimes (Liska et al. 2014). External agents such as fertilizers and pesticides are sometimes used to increase the pace and volume of production. Energy is used in the manufacturing, processing, and distribution and transportation of the product. The product, by-product and waste are counted as the output. The products include the outcome depending upon the choice of the crop chosen for cultivation. The by-products are segregated from the final products that are produced.
The entire process of production include emission of waste materials which cannot be avoided even though can be reduced. Solid and water wastes contribute to a major part of the total waste production in the crop production industry. Perhaps one of the lesser known sections are the airborne emissions produced by the agricultural industry.
Carbon footprint is defined as the amount of emission of greenhouse gases caused directly or indirectly by a person, organization, event or product. It has been observed that one third of the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions originate from agriculture. The emission of greenhouse gases have an adverse impact on the climate and is responsible for the change in climate. Carbon footprints are responsible for the effect of global warming, where the temperature of the planet rises at an exponential rate. Agriculture requires land, which results in deforestation. The decrease in the population of forests results to the increase in the emission of greenhouse gases. Furthermore, the machinery used for increasing the rate of cultivation run by fossil fuel. These machines emit a considerable amount of airborne wastes including carbon dioxide. This is one of the several factors contributing to global warming.
Carbon footprint has an adverse impact on the environment and therefore needs to be reduced. Organizations in the agricultural industry are required to consider some initiatives to decrease the rate of emission of greenhouse gases. Initiatives such as manure and livestock management play a major role in controlling carbon footprint (Knudsen et al. 2014.). Practices such as rotational grazing, selection of high quality feed to reduce the quantity of methane, covering of manure storage facilities, optimization of application of manure to soil and capturing and combustion of methane from manure can prove to be impactful in dealing with carbon footprint.Soil conservation and storage of carbon help in managing carbon footprint. Practices such as crop rotation that is, growing different crops during various seasons throughout the year in the same land so that they remain occupied, avoiding over usage if fertilizers since they contain harmful chemicals, and the establishment of agroforestry systems assist in the process of managing greenhouse gases. Ethical and economic practices such as energy conservation, fuel switching and on-farm production of energy help in the reduction of greenhouse gases in the long run. Shifting to renewable sources of energy instead of fossil fuels to operate machinery helps in cutting down the emission of airborne wastes.
As per the analysis of Lyfe cycle in agricultural sector the direct and indirect carbon emission is 8.5% higher than any other carbon emitting industry.  The following table disclosed the percentage of carbon emission for agricultural industry:






Diesel and petroleum combustion in Filed work





Emissions from Fertilizers and agro-chemicals





Electricity consumption





Heating fuel





Buildings and storing (logistics)





Equipment use for transportation and recycle





Total emission



Table 1: Reducible emission percentage and operation in agriculture
Source: (created by author)
Therefore, the indirect emission is 42.5%, which is considerably higher than any other sector, and the total direct Carbon emission is 57.5%. However the 2061kgCo2/ha is lower than the carbon emission from any other industry. In all these direct and indirect carbon emission 27% can be reduced by using alternative fuel, recycling and waste management.
It has been observed that the aviation industry contributes to 34 million tonnes of emission of carbon dioxide per annum. This accounts to approximately 6% of total emission by the United Kingdom. Almost 90% of these emissions are produced by international flights and 10 % from domestic flights. The energy-efficient aircrafts have not been able to keep pace with the growth in emissions due to increased air traffic.
However, as a solution to this problem United Kingdom has introduced and implemented the usage of renewable sources of energy such as wind power, solar energy, bio-energy and hydropower. All of these renewable sources of energy contribute to 30% of the total source of energy generation in the region (Nesta, Vona and Nicolli 2014). The usage of renewable sources of energy in the aviation industry such as airports and planes designed to run using these fuel can help in cutting down the total carbon emission.
Low carbon renewable sources of energy sources supplied to more than half of the total electricity of United Kingdom in 2017 contributing to more than 50%. This has been observed as a milestone by the environmentalists and they believe that United Kingdom can improve on the situation over time.
Even though renewable sources of energy contribute to 30% of the total energy sources collectively, their biggest competitor is nuclear energy which contributed to 24.4% of the total energy sources in the third quarter of 2017.
Reducible carbon emission:

Total emission from Aviation industry of UK 34 million tonnes




Sabre methodology

13% (specific models)

 Rearranging the flight planning and aircraft modelling

Renewable energy


Energy recycling through APU monitoring and energy management

Alternative Fuel

12.6 %

Planning and developing soler panel on the upper surface of the aircraft blade


43.2% can be reduced

Table 2: Reducible emission percentage and operation
Source: (created by author)
Therefore, more that 12 million tonnes carbon emissions are reducible where, reducing 6 million ton has been proposed by various aviation organisation within next 5 years.   
The following graph shows the Carbon emission from flights per seat as per the flown distances. 
The following graphs shows the effect of carbon emission planning model as per the Sabre holding methodology 
Graph 2: Emissions per seat as a function of distance for different plane models after using the Sabre holding model 
The government of the United Kingdom has introduced a strategy to turn the region into a low carbon economy, even though no measures have been suggested to tackle the growing emissions from the aviation industry (Hammond and Pearson 2013). Therefore, this strategy of introducing low carbon energy sources on the aviation industry conflicts with that of the government which only focuses on the implementation of renewable sources of energy majorly in the household and commercial sector.  
Hammond, G.P. and Pearson, P.J., 2013. Challenges of the transition to a low carbon, more electric future: From here to 2050. Energy Policy, 52, pp.1-9.
Knudsen, M.T., Meyer-Aurich, A., Olesen, J.E., Chirinda, N. and Hermansen, J.E., 2014. Carbon footprints of crops from organic and conventional arable crop rotations–using a life cycle assessment approach. Journal of Cleaner Production, 64, pp.609-618.
Liska, A.J., Yang, H., Milner, M., Goddard, S., Blanco-Canqui, H., Pelton, M.P., Fang, X.X., Zhu, H. and Suyker, A.E., 2014. Biofuels from crop residue can reduce soil carbon and increase CO 2 emissions. Nature Climate Change, 4(5), p.398.
Nesta, L., Vona, F. and Nicolli, F., 2014. Environmental policies, competition and innovation in renewable energy. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 67(3), pp.396-411.

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