Connecting material stocks to services: The example of steel use in UK vehicles

Jonathan Norman, Andre Cabrera Serrenho, Julian Allwood, Geoffrey Hammond

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The material stocks in a society provide services. Future demand for materials is determined by the future level of stocks needed to fulfil the services demanded and by the rate of stock retirement. In the present contribution the example of steel use in UK vehicles is examined. Future demand for steel is an important consideration due to its widespread use, and high energy and emissions intensity. Steel production accounts for approximately 9% of global emissions from energy use and industrial processes.

Around 15Mt of steel is used each year to supply the UK's demand for a variety of goods. Much of this steel is imported, either directly as steel products, or indirectly, being embodied in other goods. The in-use stocks of steel are much higher than this annual flow, in-use stocks were estimated as 820 Mt in 2008 based on extant models. The vehicles sector accounts for around 30% of annual steel demand in the UK, and is estimated to represent 12% of the steel stock (due to the long lifetime of buildings and infrastructure these uses dominate steel stocks). It is estimated that currently 40% of the annual steel demand for vehicles represents net additions to the stock, whilst the remainder is used to replace retired stock.

Using a bottom-up analysis, the steel stock in passenger cars is examined in detail. Historic trends in the stock are examined and these are linked to the transport service provided. The future stock of steel in UK passenger cars is estimated under a range of scenarios informed by these historic trends and future transport service requirements. Variations in the rate of vehicle ownership, vehicle mass, steel use per vehicle and vehicle lifetime are considered.

The demand for steel implied by each of these estimates of future steel stock is analysed. The implications on the availability of end-of-life steel are also assessed. The energy use and emissions associated with both material production and vehicle fuel use are discussed. The effect of the future scenarios on demand for other materials is examined, this is especially relevant when considering opportunities for material substitution (e.g. replacing steel with aluminium).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
EventISIE Conference 2015 - Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology - UK, Guildford, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Jul 201510 Jul 2015


ConferenceISIE Conference 2015 - Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom


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