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Antonio Valero and Alicia Valero D (2009)

Exergoecology: A thermodynamic approach for accounting the Earth's mineral capital. The case of bauxite-aluminium and limestone-lime chains


As man extracts minerals, the natural deposits become depleted in quantity and concentration, and hence the mineral wealth of the Earth decreases. This paper explains the exergoecological method used for calculating the mineral exergy bonus that Nature gives us for free for providing minerals concentrated in mines and not dispersed in the Earth's crust. The method is based on two concepts: Exergy and the Exergy cost. Exergy measures the minimum (reversible) work required to extract and concentrate the materials from a Reference Environment (RE) to the conditions found in Nature. This RE can be approximated to a completely degraded crepuscular planet with the absence of fossil fuels and mineral deposits. And the exergy cost accounts for the actual exergy required for accomplishing the same process with available technologies. These costs are complementary to the conventional extraction, land-recovering, processing and refining costs. The case studies of two industrial chains: bauxite–alumina–aluminium, and limestone–calcite–lime are presented and discussed. As the method provides values in energy units, the annual exergy decrease in the mineral endowment of the planet due to the extraction of minerals can now take into account the fossil fuel's exergy as well as the non-fuel mineral exergy costs.

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Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
Ulysea S.L. - Informática

Thanatia. Los límites minerales del planeta

 Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado interviewed by Adrián Almazán

We need a material transition, not only energetic, that restores nature and effectively reuses materials. Gaia must be cared for by extending life on Earth and slowing its degradation towards Thanatia.

Thanatia los limites


Thermodynamics for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Cover Thermodynamics

Wojciech Stanek (Editor)

This book examines ways of assessing the rational management of nonrenewable resources. Integrating numerous methods, it systematically exposes the strengths of exergy analysis in resources management.

Thanatia: The Destiny of the Earth's Mineral Resources

Cover Thanatia

A Thermodynamic Cradle-to-Cradle Assessment by (author): Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado

Is Gaia becoming Thanatia, a resource exhausted planet? For how long can our high-tech society be sustained in the light of declining mineral ore grades, heavy dependence on un-recycled critical metals and accelerated material dispersion? These are all root causes of future disruptions that need to be addressed today.