Sunday, June 10, 2012

15 Opportunities to Improve Resource Productivity

Management consulting firm McKinsey has a report that can be viewed as a career guide for engineers.  The report, Resource Revolution: Meeting the World's Energy, Materials, Food, and Water Needs, outlines a path for coping with a resource crunch on a crowded planet.  All fifteen recommendations listed below intersect with engineering.

McKinsey places the greatest hope on what it calls the "productivity response" - - improvements in resource productivity.
  1. Energy efficiency in buildings - - Making buildings more energy efficient could contribute about 19% to the total benefits McKinsey projects for the resource-productivity path.
  2. Improving yields on large farms - - Boosting crop yields could deliver 7% of the total resource-productivity benefits.
  3. Reducing food waste - - About 20 to 30% of food is wasted even before it reaches the consumer's plate.
  4. Reducing municipal water leakage - - Reducing leaky pipes in bulk water supply at commercial, residential, and public locations could be saving 100 to 120 billion cubic meters of municipal water a year by 2030.
  5. Increasing the density of urban areas - - This measure would result in greater efficiency in transportation by supporting a movement away from automobile to public transport.
  6. Improving energy efficiency in the iron and steel industry - - One important measure in this sector will be recapturing waste heat through cogeneration.
  7. Improving yields on smaller farms - - Smallholder farms account for 30% of land under cultivation while yields are 50% of those on large farms.
  8. Improving transport fuel efficiency - - Electric and hybrid are the future, but the internal combustion engine has much room for improvement.
  9. Increasing market penetration of electric and hybrid vehicles - - Assuming an average lifetime of 15 years for a vehicle, this means a complete turnover of vehicles by 2030.
  10. Reducing land degradation - - This measure will involve restoring degraded farmland and improving agricultural practices to prevent further degradation.
  11. Improving end-use steel efficiency - - The construction, machinery, and automotive industries account for 80% of global steel demand.  Better design, materials optimization, and use of higher-strength in this sectors can improve performance of the material and mitigate demand.
  12. Increasing oil and coal recovery - - Better technologies and improved recovery practices can help operations recover more of what's there and increase the productive lifetimes of coal mines and oil wells.
  13. Improving irrigation methods - - Moving farmers from flood irrigation to sprinklers and drip irrigation can improve yields and save water.
  14. Shifting road freight to rail and barge transport - - Ship and rail transport are much more efficient than road transport.
  15. Improving efficiency of power plants - - Even though coal and natural gas will continue to be the primary energy sources for electrical generation, upgrading to more efficient technologies can offer significant benefits.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.