Factors of material consumption
Author(s)Silva Díaz, Pamela Cristina
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
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Historic consumption trends for materials have been studied by many researchers, and, in order to identify the main drivers of consumption, special attention has been given to material intensity, which is the consumption of materials (in mass quantities) per GDP per capita. For our analysis, a new factor, material price, has been taken into account when analyzing the consumption of materials. Rather than focusing only in material intensity, material consumption has been studied in comparison to GDP per capita divided by price, which denotes purchasing capability. Furthermore, material consumption is decomposed into different factors and their contribution is determined for five different materials (aluminum, steel, copper, zinc and cement), for the USA, India, China and at the global level, beginning from 1900 until 2005. For the United States it can be seen that while the consumption per capita vs. purchasing capability shows an initially linearly increasing trend, a drastic slope change occurs posthumously. Similarly, on the global scale, a positive linear trend is observed initially, but is followed by a leveling of the consumption per capita, demonstrating saturation with respect to purchasing capability. On the other hand, the graphs for China and India show an increasing trend throughout the full studied period. Additionally, it has been found that on the second half of the 20th century, the US industry share of the GDP has decreased, as well as the material use within industry, balancing out the increase in population and GDP per capita. China and India on the other hand, show an increase in all factors, hence inducing consumption growth and avoiding saturation. By identifying the factors that influence material consumption, and to what extent, this work contributes to the understanding of human consumption patterns and enables a better approach to problems associated with resource utilization.
Thesis (S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 2012.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 32-34).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology