Research and Projects

Sustainability Systems Analysis Lab conducts interdisciplinary research on industrial ecology, sustainable engineering, and operations research to answer three important questions:

How sustainable is a product?

How to design a sustainable product/process?

How to optimize a system to balance economic, social, and environmental considerations?

Ongoing Projects

  • CAREER: Biochar Systems for Sustainable Applications in the Food-Energy-Water Nexus, NSF, Single PI: Yuan Yao
  • Green Buildings and Sustainable Materials, NIST, Lead PI: Yuan Yao
  • Investigating the Energy and Environmental Implications of Artificial Intelligence Applications in the Chemical Manufacturing Industry, through Environmental Law Institute,  funding from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Single PI: Yuan Yao
  • Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Woody Biomass to Biofuels/Biochemical, US DOE, Lead PI: Yuan Yao
  • Two Industrial Projects on Environmental Implications of New Technologies (Confidential), Lead PI: Yuan Yao
  • Holistic Assessment of End of Life Options of Cotton for Environmental and Economic Sustainability in the Promotion of Cotton Recycling, Cotton Incorporated,  Lead PI: Yuan Yao
  • Preparing Diverse and Rural Students and Teachers to Meet the Challenges in the Bioproducts and Bioenergy Industry, USDA, Lead PI: Richard Venditti
  • Catalytic Upgrading of Carbohydrates in Waste Streams to Hydrocarbons, Lead PI: Sunkyu Park
  • Interdisciplinary Doctoral Education Program in Animal Production from Renewable Forest Resources, Lead PI: Sunkyu Park
  • Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Woody Biomass Torrefaction Process to Displace Coal at Portland General Electric’s Boardman Power Plant, US Endowment of Forestry and Communities, Lead PI: Stephen Kelley
  • The Potential for Tall Wood Building to Sequester Carbon, Support Forest Communities and Create New Options for Forest Management, US Endowment of Forestry and Communities, Lead PI: Stephen Kelley
  • Carbon Cycling, Environmental & Rural Economic Impacts from Collecting & Processing Specific Woody Feedstocks into Biofuels, US DOE, Lead PI: Stephen Kelley

Past Projects

Research Fields

Industrial Ecology

Industrial Ecology is a broad area that analyzes the interactions among industrial, human, and natural systems. Our group uses life cycle assessment, input-output analysis, and material flow analysis to understand how industrial activities influence the environment and what are alternative actions for reducing adverse environmental impacts.

Sustainable Engineering

Sustainable Engineering integrates sustainability into engineering system design and operation. Our groups use engineering process modeling, techno-economic analysis, and engineering design to help engineers, designers, and manufacturing companies develop products and processes that can meet the needs of human beings without compromising the natural environment.

Operations Research

Operations research combines optimization, simulation, and statistics to enhance decision making in a wide range of domains, such as energy systems, management science, transportation, and financial service. Our group uses advanced analytical methods to identify optimal solutions that can have a good balance among economic, environmental, and social objectives.