Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Structured Mental Model Approach for Analyzing Perception of Risks to Rural Livelihood in Developing Countries
Previous Article in Journal
Wood Polymer Composites Technology Supporting the Recovery and Protection of Tropical Forests: The Amazonian Phoenix Project
Previous Article in Special Issue
Sustainability: Living within One’s Own Ecological Means
Sustainability 2009, 1(4), 1444-1463; doi:10.3390/su1041444

The Tenuous Use of Exergy as a Measure of Resource Value or Waste Impact

1,* , 2
Received: 5 November 2009 / Accepted: 19 December 2009 / Published: 23 December 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Forum for Sustainable Development)
Download PDF [420 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Exergy is a thermodynamic concept that has been widely promoted for assessing and improving sustainability, notably in the characterization of resources and wastes. Despite having many notable benefits, exergy is often misused by authors who tend to apply it as an intrinsic characteristic of an object (i.e., as a static thermodynamic variable). Using both theoretical and empirical evidence the authors present five key limitations that must be overcome before exergy can be applied to characterize objects: (1) the incompatibility between exergy quality and resource quality; (2) the inability of exergy to characterize non work-producing resources via the concentration exergy; (3) the constraints placed on the derivation of exergy; (4) problems with the exergy reference environment; and (5) the multiple perspectives applied to exergy analysis. Until the limitations are addressed, exergy should only be used for its original purpose as a decision making tool for engineering systems analysis.
Keywords: exergy; resource value; waste impact; sustainability assessment exergy; resource value; waste impact; sustainability assessment
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Share & Cite This Article

Further Mendeley | CiteULike
Export to BibTeX |
MDPI and ACS Style

Gaudreau, K.; Fraser, R.A.; Murphy, S. The Tenuous Use of Exergy as a Measure of Resource Value or Waste Impact. Sustainability 2009, 1, 1444-1463.

View more citation formats

Article Metrics


Citing Articles

[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert