New technologies cannot function in isolation. Any innovation must be viewed in its context, that is in the system in which it will be eventually have to function. It is only when technologies are evaluated in their context that one can understand externalities and unexpected consequences they may cause. These items may include, but are not limited to: pollution swapping (reducing one type of pollution while increasing another), changes over time as the context changes, opportunity costs (e.g. monetary as well as environmentally or technologically) and feasibility in practice.
With the above systems perspective I investigate technologies focused on water and nutrient recovery from urban waste (e.g. municipal wastewater, food and beverage wastewater, rainwater and drinking water). Specific, products that are investigated are organic and inorganic fertilisers as well as microbial biomass as an alternative protein source.
The methodologies I am using seek to provide evidence for environmental, economic and legal performance of technologies. Key methods used are:
- Life cycle assessment with specific interest in the consequential methodology
- Multi criteria assessments of different technological scenarios
- Material flow and substance flow analysis
- Economic assessment of technologies under uncertainty over time and phased expansion
- Physico-chemcial analysis of recovered materials and their benchmark against feed and fertilizer legislation