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Faculty

Dr. Bhavik Bakshi

  • Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Ohio State University

Research Profile: Sustainability Science and Engineering, Process Systems Engineering

Education:

  • B.Chem.Eng., University of Bombay, 1986
  • MSCEP, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989
  • Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1992

Honors and Awards:

  • Research Excellence in Sustainable Engineering, AIChE Sustainable Engineering Forum
  • Best poster award, first place with Shweta Singh, IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology
  • Best paper award, first place with Shweta Singh, IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology
  • Best Poster Award for the paper A Framework for Assessing the Biocomplexity of Material Use, with Dr. Jun-Ki Choi, International Input Output Meeting
  • Lumley Research Award, College of Engineering
  • NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation
  • Faculty Early Career Enhancement (CAREER) Award, National Science Foundation
  • Ted Peterson Award, Computing and Systems Technology area
  • Poster session award, Annual Meeting
  • P.C. Ray Award, Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • National Merit Scholarship, Government of India
  • Bombay University scholarship, University of Bombay

Research

Meeting human needs while addressing and adapting to challenges posed by environmental change, resource depletion, and ecological deterioration is among the grand challenges facing humanity. Our research is developing new understanding, methods, tools and techniques to address this challenge. This requires multidisciplinary research that connects with disciplines beyond chemical engineering such as ecology, environmental economics, applied statistics, and operations research. Most of our research expands the traditional engineering focus on a single manufacturing process or supply chain to also include broader implications of these activities on the life cycle, economy and ecosystems. Such work is of increasing interest to businesses, governments, non-governmental organizations, and consumers.

Some motivating characteristics of the problems we focus on in our current research include the following.

  • Solutions to environmental problems based on a narrow temporal, spatial or disciplinary boundary are unlikely to work since the problem tends to shift and reappear outside the analysis boundary. Thus, a broad systems view is essential for finding sustainable solutions.
  • Goods and services provided by ecological systems such as air, water, carbon and nitrogen cycling, pollination, pest and climate regulation and many others, are essential for sustaining all human activities. Many of these nature's inputs are highly degraded, but most disciplines and decisions continue to ignore them. Thus, accounting for ecosystem goods and services should be the basis of sustainability engineering.
  • Economic, environmental and social goals need to be satisfied for sustainability. This results in a complex problem that needs to consider large uncertainties and trade-offs.

These characteristics motivate our work in the following selected areas.

Ecologically-Based Life Cycle Assessment. We are developing ways of accounting for the role of ecosystem services in supporting human activities. This work combines data and models of ecosystems with models of economic and industrial systems. An integrated model of the United States economy and supporting ecosystems has been developed, and a similar model is being developed for India. We use thermodynamic methods to aggregate diverse material and energy flows. These methods exploit the fact that both ecological and industrial systems are governed by the same laws and the flow of available energy (exergy) is a common currency for their integrated evaluation. This has resulted in a novel framework and software for Ecologically-Based Life Cycle Assessment (Eco-LCA). Current work is incorporating the role of biogeochemical cycles such as those of nitrogen and phosphorus in Eco-LCA, and developing semi-quantitative methods to account for the role of regulating ecosystem services.

Statistical methods for LCA. This work is developing a statistically rigorous framework for life cycle assessment. It is addressing challenges in LCA such as its large boundary, need for combining data and models at multiple scales, and diverse sources of uncertain data. We have developed a novel approach for improving the quality of life cycle inventory data by imposing the laws of conservation on the life cycle data along with knowledge about their uncertainty. We are also developing new insight into the effect of methods for partitioning resource use and emissions among multiple products, and new ways of developing streamlined LCA models.

Design for Sustainability. Since the only system we know of as being sustainable is the ecosystem, this work aims to learn from and design human systems that mimic nature. One approach that has been increasingly popular is that of establishing byproduct synergy networks where waste from one industry is used as a resource in another. Our work is going beyond such synergies between technological systems by including the role of ecological systems. We are developing methods to design integrated networks of technological and ecological systems. One key insight from this work on developing "eco-synergies" is that including ecological systems in the network design problem expands the design space and can lead to designs that cannot be found by the traditional focus on technological systems. Many of these designs are beneficial from both economic and environmental points of view. Such an approach can be used to develop "islands of sustainability" by ensuring that engineering activities stay within ecological constraints, and by enhancing ecosystems to provide the needed ecosystem services.

Dynamics of coupled natural and human systems. Understanding the interaction between natural and human systems can play a central role in understanding complex systems and developing technologies, policies and economic instruments for encouraging sustainability and resilience. We are exploring the interaction between systems such as industrial supply chains, supporting ecosystem services, and consumption, and the evolution of green buildings, surrounding environment and human behavior.

Applications. Our methods are applied to a large variety of products and systems. We have conducted life cycle studies of products such as transportation fuels, polymer nanocomposites, ionic liquids, and bio-based materials. Such studies account for the direct and indirect role of ecosystems, and consider ecological solutions such as the use of wetlands for treating agricultural runoff, and obtaining biomass from native grasslands. Our eco-synergy design efforts focus on residential systems, industrial supply chain design, and development of a sustainable campus.

More Information

Biography and Current Information

SRI Director
Dr. Christos Georgakis
Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Gordon Senior Faculty Fellow of Systems Engineering
Tufts University
Affiliated Faculty at Tufts
Dr. Kyongbum Lee
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Tufts University
Dr. Nikhil Nair
Asistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Tufts University
Affiliated Faculty Outside Tufts
Dr. Bhavik Bakshi
Professor , Departmants of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Ohio State University
Dr. Dominique Bonvin
Professor, Automatic Control Laboratory École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL) Switzerland
Dr. B. Erik Ydstie
Professor, Departmant of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Professor of Electrical Engineering by Courtesy, CMU , and Professor II of Electrical Engineering at NUST, Trondheim, Norway
Contact SRI
Tufts University
Science and Technology Center
4 Colby Strett, Room 273
Medford, MA 02155
(617) 627-2573
(617) 627-3991 [FAX]
Christos.Georgakis@tufts.edu