Development of a life cycle assessment model for the analysis of the energy, water and food nexus

Tareq Al-Ansari, Anna Korre, Zhenggang Nie, Nilay Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing momentum to analyse the broader interdependencies of the energy, water and food systems rather than evaluating them in isolation. For instance, when analysing a food system, it is necessary to consider it in terms of its agriculture, water and energy characteristics using a suitable robust sustainability assessment methodology. The objective of this paper is to integrate energy, water and food (EWF) systems in one resource model described by a series of sub-systems; the agriculture subsystem includes the production and application of fertilizers and the raising of livestock. The water sub-system is represented by reverse osmosis for the production of water. The energy sub-systems consider fossil fuel in the form of combined cycle natural gas based energy production and solar renewable energy. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used to evaluate impacts on the natural environment by considering the material flows from the sub-systems on a range of impact categories in addition to calculating resource consumption. It is shown that the food sub-system produces the largest emissions, followed by fossil fuel powered desalination for irrigation. The use of renewable energy has a significant land footprint however, it reduces overall emissions significantly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1044
Number of pages6
JournalComputer Aided Chemical Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Energy
  • Food
  • LCA
  • Nexus
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications

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