73317 - Industrial Ecology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Industry, innovation and infrastructure Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course introduces the student to the connection between technological, environmental, economic and social impacts of industrial production processes, in the light of sustainable development and circular economy. The student will gain knowledge on the evaluation of the life-cycle environmental impacts from industrial activities, on the EU environmental policy and on the main pollution prevention and control techniques applicable to energy production.

Course contents

Requirements/Prior knowledge

A prior knowledge and understanding of the fundamental concepts used to describe a production process and its material and energy input/outputs is required to attend with profit this course. This implies basic knowelge of physics, chemistry and thermodynamics.

Fluent spoken and written English is a necessary pre-requisite: all lectures and tutorials, and all study material will be in English.

Course Contents

Sustainability, Circular Economy and Environmental protection

- Sustainable Development: basic elements and open questions.

- Industrial Ecology and Circular Economy

- The environmental policy of the European Union

- Voluntary programs: Environmental Management Systems (EMAS/ISO14001); Environmental Labels (Ecolabel/EPD)

- Permitting procedures: Environmental Impact Assessment; Strategic Environmental Assessment; Industrial Emission Directive

- Environmental protection through product policies: Integrated Product Policies; Design for the Environment; Extended Product Responsibility

The main environmental concerns from industrial activities

- Resouce use and sustanability conditions

- Global warming: a phenomenological approach

- Actions to reduce anthropic emissions of green-house gases

- Ozone depletion: a phenomenological approach

- Photochemical smog: phenomenology and reduction strategies

- Estimation of fugitive emissions from process plants

Greening energy production

Energy production and the environment: connections, impacts, alternative energy sources

Supply chain and life-cycle approaches

Raw materials for energy production by thermo-chemical processes: fossil fuels, alternative fuels, waste derived fuels and biomasses.

Thermo-chemical processes for energy production: combustion and pollutant formation

Plant technologies for energy production: combustion plants, pyrolysis and gasification plants.

Emission control and pollution prevention: inherent, pre-treatment and end-of-pipe strategies

Life cycle Assessment

The life-cycle approach: perspective, application and limits

The LCA methodology (ISO14040 family)

Environmental indexes and indicators

Intensification and integration of processes; industrial symbiosis

Case Study on LCA


Course references:

  • T.E. Graedel and B.R. Allenby. Industrial Ecology, (2nd ed.). 2003, Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River.
  • E.S. Rubin. Introduction to engineering & the environment. 2001, McGrow-Hill: New York.
  • Lesson handouts
  • Websites suggested at lesson

Further readings suggested:

  • D.T. Allen and D.R. Shonnard. Green Engineering. 2002, Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River.
  • T.E. Graedel and J.A. Howard-Grenville. Greening the industrial facility. 2005, Springer: New York.
  • G. Jonker and J. Harmsen. Engineering for sustainability. 2012, Elsevier.

Teaching methods

In-class/online lessons


Individual Case Study

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by the means of a final exam. This is based on an analytical assessment of the "expected learning outcomes" described above.

In order to properly assess such achievement the examination is composed of two different sessions: a project and a written test.

The project focuses on the individual developement of a streamlined LCA study.

The written test will consist of apporximately 4-6 questions (both multiple choice and open questions), and 2-3 numerical exercises. To be eligible to take the oral interview, the student must score a passing grade on the evaluation of the project.

The exam is set to evaluate the students' knowledge-level, analyzing and synthesizing abilities, and technical communication skills.

Higher grades (from 25/30 to 30/30) will be awarded to students who demonstrate an organic understanding of the subject, a high ability for critical application, a clear and concise presentation of their ideas and an appropiate use of technical language.

To obtain a passing grade (from 18/30 to 24/30), students are required to at least demonstrate a knowledge of the key concepts of the subject, some ability for critical application, and a comprehensible use of technical language.

A failing grade will be awarded if the student shows knowledge gaps in key-concepts of the subject, inappropriate use of language, and/or logic failures in the analysis of the subject.

Teaching tools

Lecture slides and integrative supporting material will be available on-line on the e-learing service (virtuale.unibo.it). UniBo credentials and a specific password are required for access. The password will be comunicated on the first day of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Tugnoli

See the website of Alessandro Dal Pozzo