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Q: Energy content of consumer products ( No Answer,   2 Comments )
Subject: Energy content of consumer products
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: bapini-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 12 Sep 2006 10:10 PDT
Expires: 12 Oct 2006 10:10 PDT
Question ID: 764511
I want to know the amount of energy (kJ, kW-hr, or BTU) that is
consumed in the production, delivery, and disposal of some common
consumer products.  As a bonus, I would also like to know the
life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of those products.  I am more
interested in products that are not viewed as energy consumers in
their use.  In other words, I would prefer a can of tennis balls, a
set of toy building blocks, a maple double dresser, a box of software,
a square foot of suburban housing, a bottle of water, a pair of
women?s leather shoes, an ink-jet printer, and a hamburger over a
lightbulb, a computer, a power lawn mower, and a TV.  Please choose
two products for this analysis and discuss what, or how many, others
for which such data may be available.  Then we can negotiate terms for
data on more products.  I have seen a lot of data on cars.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Energy content of consumer products
From: larryg999-ga on 24 Sep 2006 19:22 PDT
As a first approximation, the price of a consumer product is a good
measure of the energy needed to create that product.  To use this
measurement technique, however, only use the prices of "mature"
products, for example, a 27" Sony CRT direct-view TV (in production
for 15 years); or the price of suburban housing, less the cost of the

This method works because, once the price settles out to its
"steady-state" value, the initial R&D costs, marketing costs, etc have
been fully amortized; and the labor costs have been reduced to the
energy-cost of feeding and housing the laborers in China or India.
Subject: Re: Energy content of consumer products
From: larryg999-ga on 28 Sep 2006 14:01 PDT
For a qualitative overview of product life-cycle energy inputs, I
would recommend chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the book Natural Capitalism,
available free as a pdf file:

Also of possible interest, to illustrate the complexity of energy
analysis:  James Womack and Daniel Jones, in their book Lean Thinking,
trace the origins and pathways of a can of English cola. An excerpt:

?The can itself is more costly and complicated to manufacture than the
beverage. Bauxite is mined in Australia and trucked to a chemical
reduction mill where a half-hour process purifies each ton of bauxite
into a half ton of aluminum oxide?.

The smelter takes two hours to turn each half ton of aluminum oxide
into a quarter ton of aluminum metal, in ingots ten meters long. Each
ingot is heated to nearly nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit and rolled
down to a thickness of an eighth of an inch, then transported to a
cold rolling mill in another country, where they are rolled tenfold
thinner, ready for fabrication. The aluminum is then sent to England,
where sheets are punched and formed into cans, which are then washed,
dried, painted with a base coat, and then painted again with specific
product information. The cans are next lacquered, flanged (they are
still topless)?.?

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