Title: Exploring the limits to sustainable energy consumption for organisms and devices

Authors: John Reap, Bert Bras

Addresses: Sustainable Design and Manufacturing Program, Systems Realisation Laboratory, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405, USA. ' Sustainable Design and Manufacturing Program, Systems Realisation Laboratory, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405, USA

Abstract: Energy consumption accounts for a significant portion of a product|s environmental impacts. Biological research suggests the existence of a fundamental energetic limit. After reviewing research into the influence of thermodynamic and economic principles on living systems| evolution, a biological principle explaining the existence of a mass-specific energy consumption rate limit for living systems is identified and quantified. These findings lead to a potential sustainable engineering principle and metric. Simple assessments of consumer goods and vehicles illustrate the principle|s application. Discussions of this biologically inspired limit and the general value of seeking environmental design guidance from living systems close this paper.

Keywords: energy consumption; metabolic rate; metabolism; sustainable design; design for environment; DfE; environmental assessment; biomimicry; biologically inspired limit; sustainability; sustainable manufacturing; product design.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSM.2008.019228

International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing, 2008 Vol.1 No.1/2, pp.78 - 99

Available online: 02 Jul 2008 *

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