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New international consortium targets the environmental impact of materials

Granta Design has announced the launch of a new collaborative project, the Environmental Materials Information Technology (EMIT) Consortium. The EMIT Consortium, coordinated by the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL), will target materials and process decisions that control the environmental impact of engineered products. It will develop information resources and software to aid members' response to environmental regulations and to enable design for minimum environmental impact, including low carbon footprint, energy efficiency, reduced wastes and emissions, and avoidance of restricted substances. The three-year project begins on July 1 with founder members Emerson Electric, Eurocopter, NASA, and Rolls-Royce. It is expected to grow to between ten and fifteen member organizations. Granta is the primary software developer for the Consortium.

Regulations such as the European Union's REACH will have a profound effect on manufacturing organizations. Materials or processes may become obsolete or prohibitively expensive. Problems with compliance will introduce delays and cost. Other environmental objectives, such as low carbon footprint or design for end-of-life, are becoming more important due to consumer demand and government action, such as carbon trading schemes. By far the best response is to build consideration of these factors into the design process – where modifications to products cost least and have the greatest impact. Choices of material and of manufacturing process are of central importance, since these determine the use of restricted substances and can have a major influence on energy usage and emissions over a product's lifetime. Requirements for such choices include:

- Accurate information on restricted substances and on 'eco properties' such as the carbon dioxide generated in producing a raw material

- Specialist analysis capabilities – for example, to estimate the carbon dioxide that a potential product will generate at each stage in its lifecycle based on the materials and processes it uses

- Well-managed corporate materials information integrated with the organization's wider business and engineering systems – for example, to enable all materials in a company's products to be identified and the impact of materials substitutions to be assessed

Today, most manufacturing enterprises have none of these elements in place. Excellence in eco design demands integrated and easy access to all of them. This is the focus of the EMIT Consortium. The starting point will be proven technology developed at Granta and the University of Cambridge in each of these key areas – eco property data, eco analysis software, and materials information management. Consortium members will implement and apply this technology in their design processes, and guide its further development and integration. The model for the project is the successful Material Data Management Consortium (www.mdmc.net), which has brought together leaders in aerospace, defense, and energy to develop best practice approaches and software to manage mission-critical materials data. The MDMC is now in its sixth year, with seventeen active member organizations.

"We're excited to be launching this major new project in such a crucial area for both industry and society," commented Professor David Cebon, Managing Director at Granta. "The caliber of the initial members and the broad interest that we have experienced across industry sectors demonstrates its importance. These issues are vital – whether you are an aerospace organization seeking to avoid use of materials that may become obsolete in future, or an appliance manufacturer aiming to reduce the environmental impact of products without increasing cost."

"The National Physical Lab exists to deliver economic and social impact through science and knowledge services," said Dr Graham Sims, Knowledge Leader for the Industry and Innovation Division. "The EMIT Consortium is a perfect fit to that mission – it will put materials information technology to very practical use, delivering business benefits to its members, while also helping to achieve wider environmental objectives."

Press release issued by Granta Design on July 2, 2008

 

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Granta Design Computer-aided Design, Technical/Eng/Scientific Studies, Engineering Design Services, Product Data Management, Product Lifecycle Management, Computer-aided Engineering, Computer-aided Simulation

 

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