Research Assistant, Carbon Leadership Forum
Meng-Yen Lin is a research assistant at the Carbon Leadership Forum focusing on the development of LCA for building materials. She received a MS degree in civil engineering where she studied cellular materials and the upcycling of waste materials. Now she is studying in the Materials Science and Engineering PhD program at the University of Washington while conducting LCA research. With her research background, Meng-Yen is interested in applying her knowledge of developing sustainable construction materials to the LCA of advanced building materials. Outside of work, she enjoys painting, cooking, and biking under the Seattle sunshine.
by Meng-Yen Lin
Before pursuing my doctoral studies, I obtained both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. Since then I have been intrigued by construction materials. I was super fascinated by the impacts of hierarchical (nano-to-meter) structure-properties relationships on the performance of construction materials. Studying the elastoplastic behavior of cellular materials by diving into the fracture mechanism of the nanobeams allowed me to explore the process of developing lightweight materials, like foams. To further investigate the structure-properties relationships of construction materials, I then worked as a research assistant for a year after graduation, developing alternative no-cement structural materials by recycling industrial waste materials with alkali-activation methods. During this time, I became aware of the environmental impacts of the disposal of economic products and the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and disposal processes.
As I became more aware of the significant environmental impact of construction materials, combined with the enormous global demand for them, I came to understand that reducing the carbon emissions of construction materials by tuning the formula and structure-properties relationships will be influential in combating climate change. This belief inspired my current research at Roumeli’s lab at the University of Washington’s Material Science and Engineering program, where I am working on incorporating biological matter into cementitious materials to generate functional structural materials with a minimal carbon footprint. As I focus on analyzing the fundamental bonds, microstructures, and the resultant mechanical performance of the bulk materials, I hope to tackle the challenge of how to introduce the high displacement by biogenic materials of more carbon-intensive construction materials, and further analyze the environmental impacts that result. This goal, of course, has led me to life-cycle assessment, where I first came to realize the importance of imprving current LCA research and applications.
The goals of the Carbon Leadership Forum, from creating consistent LCA guidelines to providing comprehensive carbon emissions information in the design decision-making process, align perfectly with my research interests. Based on my background in materials development, I will join the materials group as a research assistant, working with Monica Huang and interfacing with the HESTIA group. I expect to learn more about the effects of implementing different LCA models on the material development process. I am particularly interested in studying questions such as how the definition of scope, functional units, and sequestrated carbon in biogenic materials will affect the final assessment, how to find consistent guidelines for adventurous lab-scale processing methods, and how to bridge the gap between the lab-scale manufacturing and the scale-up fabrication in the industry.
I am excited about CLF’s vision of generating a standardized LCA framework and view it as an excellent opportunity to promote cross-disciplinary conversations and comprehensive examinations for each step in the whole building life cycle. As CLF is bringing together experts from materials development to building design to LCA methodology, there is a huge potential to factor quantified carbon emissions into designs at all levels, even accelerating low-carbon design through the use of building information model (BIM) and machine learning. With my cross-disciplinary background and passion for developing sustainable materials, I believe that I can provide insights into the materials manufacturing processes that balance performance design and minimum environmental impacts, and further promote the LCA framework to advance other sustainable materials development within the materials science and engineering field.