Towards Sustainable Chemical Processes: Chapter 1 - Sustainability assessment for chemical product and process design during early design stages

Elsevier, Towards Sustainable Chemical Processes, 2020, Pages 3-41
Paulo César Narváez Rincón, Juliana Serna, Álvaro Orjuela, Mauricio Camargo

Nowadays, the importance of reaching sustainable production and consumption is broadly and globally recognized. Considering the chemical sector, a major challenge to incorporate a sustainability approach for product/process design is its inherent complexity. This is more difficult at early design stages when information is scarce, uncertainty is high, and the effects of decisions are huge. Considering this, the chapter presents a decision-making methodology applicable to the sustainable design of chemical products and processes at early design stages. The methodology proposes the use of indicators to assess the design alternatives on the three sustainability dimensions. Most of the proposed indicators were calculated based upon the H statements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, which are available and easy to calculate. The incorporation of assessments is done based on Multicriteria Decision Analysis methods. The proposed methodology can become a rapid conceptual design tool for systematic decision-making at the early stages of product/process synthesis. The following sections explain the steps of the decision methodology, which are (1) problem definition, (2) assessment of alternatives, (3) integration of assessments and (4) final decision. Additionally, the methodology is exemplified through two case studies: the selection of a chemical route to produce glyceryl monostearate, and the selection of a formulation for a cosmetic application.