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Keywords:

  • industrial ecology;
  • infrastructure;
  • lifetime distribution;
  • material flow analysis (MFA);
  • probability of failure;
  • substance flow analysis

Summary

A dynamic substance-flow model is developed to characterize the stocks and flows of cement utilized during the 20th century in the United States, using the generic cement life cycle as a systems boundary. The motivation for estimating historical inventories of cement stocks and flows is to provide accurate estimates of contemporary cement in-use stocks in U.S. infrastructure and future discards to relevant stakeholders in U.S. infrastructure, such as the federal and state highway administrators, departments of transportation, public and private utilities, and the construction and cement industries. Such information will assist in planning future rehabilitation projects and better life cycle management of infrastructure systems. In the present policy environment of climate negotiations, estimates of in-use cement infrastructure can provide insights about to what extent built environment can act as a carbon sink over its lifetime. The rate of addition of new stock, its composition, and the repair of existing stock are key determinants of infrastructure sustainability. Based upon a probability of failure approach, a dynamic stock and flow model was developed utilizing three statistical lifetime distributions—Weibull, gamma, and lognormal—for each cement end-use. The model-derived estimate of the “in-use” cement stocks in the United States is in the range of 4.2 to 4.4 billion metric tons (gigatonnes, Gt). This indicates that 82% to 87% of cement utilized during the last century is still in use. On a per capita basis, this is equivalent to 14.3 to 15.0 tonnes of in-use cement stock per person. The in-use cement stock per capita has doubled over the last 50 years, although the rate of growth has slowed.