Databases that result from academic research activities are increasingly deposited in accessible archives for the purpose of making them available for use by institutions and governments worldwide. These data are static, however -- they have no provision for updating and enhancement nor the assurance of archive security and long-term preservation. In the case of material flow information, essential to the evaluation of metal use, recycling, import/exports flows, and losses to the environment, quantitative life cycle results have been published for some sixty elements, but rarely with the supporting information being publicly available and/or the detailed underlying and generated data available in a user-friendly format. Nonetheless, these cycles form the foundations for subsequent research related to materials sustainability, product lifetimes, international trade, carbon emissions, and many related topics. From this perspective, the present grant provides the necessary resources to fully document and transform the Yale archive of data on all aspects of materials sustainability for numerous metals and metalloids from its present form into a convenient, easily-accessed, and well-documented package. It will then be transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey for data formatting review, quality assessment, achieving, security, updating enhancement, and accessibility.
This project will enable public access to a unique dataset that was created in an academic setting, largely through public funding from NSF. As such the project provides a blueprint for a successful collaboration between academia and multiple government agencies that has the potential to benefit U.S. industry, U.S. government agencies, the U.S. research community, and others worldwide. The project will train a postdoctoral associate at Yale University and several USGS specialists in material flow analysis (MFA) methodology and MFA database structures. The results of the activity will be shared within potentially interested communities by publications and presentations in appropriate venues.