Sustainable Engineering

Water in the life cycle of copper products

For many years the copper industry has endeavored to create inventory records of copper ore and (semi-finished) copper products. With the help of these data sets, the environmental effects of copper and copper products, such as global warming, acidification, etc. can be investigated. However, water use is not sufficiently accounted for in the data sets, and the life cycle assessment method also does not permit sufficient determination of the effect of water use on the inventory records and impact assessment. So far, the copper industry has not dealt with the water profile of its products, and it is unclear whether water consumption affects environmental problems or not. To find a remedy and collect information for internal and external stakeholders, this project studies the following questions:

  • Which methods for quantifying and evaluating water consumption are currently being discussed?
  • What data on the use of waters exists in the currently available environmental profiles of copper and copper products and how reliable is this data?
  • Which steps dominate in the manufacturing of a copper product? How much water is used in the production of copper and copper products and how can this water consumption be assessed using different impact assessment methods?
  • How big is the "water footprint" of copper compared to other materials?

In co-operation with: European Copper Institute

Duration: January 2010 - June 2010

M. Sc. Markus Berger
Room Z 202
Phone +49 (0)30 314-25084

Dipl. Wirtsch.-Ing. Sabrina Neugebauer