Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Quantifying phosphorus sources, sinks, flows and footprints: Incorporating phosphate rock, mineral impurities and natural inputs
by Knight, Joshua Nathanial, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Denver, 2013, 172; 3605474
Abstract (Summary)

This research is the first to include phosphorus as impurities in quantifying total phosphorus flows at the U.S. and global scale (Ch. 2). At the global scale, including mineral impurities, phosphate rock and natural inputs, we found 52 Teragram (Tg) inputs to the world in 2009 and 9 Tg to the U.S. in 2010, of which mineral impurities contributed 13% (world) and 7% (US), proving impurities a significant resource which should not be overlooked. Of the 52 Tg of phosphorus inputs globally, 48 Tg goes to sinks, with 25 Tg to wastewater and waterways, 14 Tg to landfills, 1 Tg lost to stock in concrete, and 8 Tg being recycled to farms. For the U.S., 9 Tg of phosphorus were input in 2010, with 7 Tg going to sinks, with 4 Tg to sewer and waterways, 2 Tg to landfills and 1 Tg being recycled back to farms. Embodied phosphorus inputs were then mapped to U.S. economic demand, and the phosphorus intensity of final demand was found for 440 sectors of the U.S. economy (Ch. 3). This showed that food and fertilizer understandably comprise the most intense demanders of phosphorus (mt P/M$), but that construction, utilities and government also comprise intense phosphorus demand on inputs. This research developed new mathematical methods to model phosphorus sources, sinks and flows in an economy (Ch. 4) to analyze direct, upstream and downstream phosphorus flows with economic data and a method to evaluate phosphorus flow production- and demand-based interventions. This showed that food understandably comprises the most intense demanders of phosphorus sinks (mt P/M$), but that textiles, construction, and wood also comprise intense phosphorus demand on sinks, even more so than fertilizer and government, unlike the inputs of Ch. 3. This research proved to be a useful method to quickly evaluate the mitigation possibilities in an economy through just economic data, readily available at city, regional, state, country and global levels (Ch. 5). It was found that mitigation solutions could quickly be estimated from sinks found in Ch. 4, with an average 76% recoverable at the world level and 79% in the U.S., using currently available best management practices. Of the total mitigation possible, 9% was attributable to a demand-based strategy (reduced consumption), with the remaining attributable to production-based strategies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Karunanithi, Arunprakash
Commitee: Bielefeldt, Angela, Ramaswami, Anu, Ren, Jason, Silverstein, JoAnn
School: University of Colorado at Denver
Department: Civil Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Civil engineering, Environmental engineering, Materials science
Keywords: Economic Input Output Life Cycle Assessment, Impurities, Industrial ecology, Phosphorus measures, Substance Flow Analyses
Publication Number: 3605474
ISBN: 9781303619144
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