A thermodynamic metric for assessing sustainable use of natural resources
Journal article, 2015

A thermodynamic metric is proposed to supplement existing scales in the assessment of the way we use our natural resources. This metric has the advantage of being absolute and independent of economy, suitable for comparison of technologies, and can be used at molecular level as well as process-units and systems levels. It measures loss of useful work (exergy) in cradle-to-grave or complete recycling systems in terms of generalized friction or entropy production and may deliver realistic targets for process operations. This absolute scale can be useful also for international legislation and to foster a development in direction of more sustainable technologies. In an extended perspective, the presented approach may form a universal basis for analysis and development of national economies and policies regarding industry, engineering and environment. This may give new opportunities to put political resource discussions on a solid objective footing.

Exergy in legislation

Resource efficiency

Thermodynamic efficiency


S. Kjelstrup

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

J. Dewulf

Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission

Ghent university

Bengt Nordén

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry

International Journal of Applied Thermodynamics

1301-9724 (ISSN)

Vol. 18 1 66-72

Subject Categories

Mechanical Engineering

Driving Forces

Sustainable development



More information

Latest update

9/3/2020 8