Dr Marguerite Renouf

Research Fellow

School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
m.renouf@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 61228

Overview

Marguerite Renouf BSc(Hons)/BA, PhD (Env Man) UQ is a Research Fellow at the School of Chemical Engineering's Water-Energy-Carbon Research Group (www.chemeng.uq.edu.au/water-energy-carbon).

She has worked in environmental research at UQ for 15 years, with a particular interest in the environmental evaluation of production and consumption systems using modelling tools. She is interested how we can produce and consume with less drain on the environment.

Since completing a PhD in 2011, her research has applied environmental evaluation tools such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to assess the environmental impacts of agricultural and bio-products and their supply chains. Her expertise in this field is highly regarded in Australia, and she is a Board member of the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (www.alcas.asn.au).

Prior to this her research was concerned with eco-efficiency in manufacturing industries (food processing, metal industries, retail and tourism sectors) and was a long-term contributor to UQ’s Working Group for Cleaner Production (1997-2012), and its Director for three years (2009-2012) (www.ecoefficiency.com.au).

Currently, Marguerite is pursuing two streams of research. One is "quantifying water metabolism in cities", which aims to operationalize the concept of 'urban metabolism' to help plan more water efficient cities, as part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (watersensitivecities.org.au). A second is the "environmental sustainability of Australian food systems" which builds on her past LCA and eco-efficiency research to improve how we produce, process, distribute, and consume food in Australia.

Marguerite has supervised three PhD and one Honours students to date, whose topics relate to evaluating and optimising the environmental performance of production systems (sugarcane biorefineries, red meat production and biofuels).

Research Interests

  • Water metabolism of cities
    Developing and applying evaluation methods that quantify how efficiently water is used and managed in urban areas (cities, precincts, catchments). This is used to help urban planners and water managers make strategic and innovative decisions about how water systems are desgined, particularly in fast-growing cities.
  • Environmental sustainability of food systems
    Quantifying the environmental performance of food products and food systems using the 'life cycle assessment' (LCA) method. This is used to understand priority areas for improving the environmental sustainability of agriculture, food processing and distribution and retail.
  • Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) methods for agri-food and bio-production
    Refining methodologies for characterising and quantifying the environmental impacts of agriculture in 'life cycle assessment' (LCA). This is needed to ensure an accurate representation of the environmental impacts agriculture, for use in studies of food and bio-products. The environmental impacts of most interest are water quality impacts (eutrophication, eco-toxicity), water resource depletion as well as global warming potential.

Research Impacts

Marguerite's PhD research used life cycle assessment (LCA) to test the environmental benefits of using sugarcane as feedstock for bio-energy, bio-fuels and bio-materials, the findings from which have been published in four papers in A-ranked journals. This work has helped understand the consequences of agriculture's changing role as a provider of energy and materials in addition to food and fibre.

An extension of this was industry-funded research to develop the CaneLCA eco-efficiency tool for susugarcane producers (available at eshop.uniquest.com.au). It has been used by researchers and agricultural extension personnel to inform about more sustainable sugarcane growing practices.

Marguerite has influenced LCA developments in Australia. She has chaired the Australian Life Cycle Inventory (AusLCI) Database Agriculture Working Group (2008-2014) and the ALCAS Impact Assessment Committee (2013-ongoing), and has been on the organising committee of the LCA Australia Conference (2013, 2015). In these roles she has facilitated information exchange and consensus building in the Australian LCA research community by contributing to the development of the agricultural LCA data sets available via the AusLCI database (www.auslci.com.au), and the Best Practice Guide for Life Cycle Impact Assessment in Australia (www.alcas.asn.au).

Her past contributions to UQ’s Working Group for Cleaner Production (1997 - 2012) helped support the Queensland Government's promotion of sustainable practices to Queensland manufacturing sectors (food processing, foundries, metal finishing, marine construction and general manufacturing). This included high-quality eco-efficiency information resources about (www.ecoefficiency.com.au), which continue to be a primary source of technical guidance for implementing eco-efficiency in these industries.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science/Arts, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Available Projects

  • Background:

    For some environmental impact indicators reported in life cycle assessment (LCA) (global warming potential and non-renewable energy depletion) there are clear and consistent approaches for assessing and representing results. Hence it is possible to confidently and consistently review, critique and compare results generated for these indicators. This is not the case for impact categories of relevance for agriculture - in particular water use and water quality impacts (eutrophication eco-toxicity). LCA practitioners in Australia are faced with a range of different impact assessment methods for quantifying these impacts (mostly European methods), but they have not yet been validated for Australian conditions. Consequently the research community and industry do not have confidence in results generated for these methods and are reluctant to report them or be guided by them. There is a great need to critique and validate existing available methods, and perhaps refine them accordingly for the Australian context. It will be difficult for LCA to develop as a useful and predictive tool for Australian agriculture without scientifically-validated and industry-endorsed impact assessment methods.

    Aim:

    To develop scientifically-validated characterisation factors for impact assessment of eutrophication, eco-toxicity and water use to support life cycle assessment (LCA) of agricutlure-based production in Australia.

    Tasks:

    A first step could be to test the hypothesised mis-match between environmental impact indicators generated by LCA methods and actual observation of impacts in Australia. Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) results will be generated for a range of available eutrophication, eco-toxicity and water use impact assessment methods, for a range of agricultural commodities (for example, sugarcane, grain, cotton) using inventories developed by the AusAgLCI project. These will be compared with empirical evidence or the observations of experts to verify whether current impacts characterisation methods adequately represent impacts.

    A next step could be to conduct a review of existing scientific knowledge that correlates environmental impacts (eutrophication, eco-toxicity and water depletion) in Australian water bodies to emissions from agricultural activities. A key resource for this will be the extensive water quality monitoring and modelling research conducted for the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan. Where possible characterisation factors for eutrophication and eco-toxicity and water resource depletion that are appropriate for Australia will be developed.

    Funding:

    No funding is currently available for this project, but Marguerite would be happy to assist an interested student prepare a funding application to funding bodies.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book

Book Chapter

  • Renouf, Marguerite A. (2016). Greenhouse gas abatement from sugarcane bioenergy, biofuels, and biomaterials. In Ian M. O'Hara and Sagadevan G. Mundree (Ed.), Sugarcane-based biofuels and bioproducts (pp. 333-362) Hoboken NJ, United States: Wiley Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781118719862.ch13

  • Kershaw, Will and Renouf, Marguerite (2013). Sustainable production. In Gianna Moscardo, Geoffrey Lamberton, Geoffrey Wells, Wayne Fallon, Phillip Lawn, Anna Rowe, Jacquelyn Humphrey, Retha Wiesner, Brad Pettitt, Don Clifton, Marguerite Renouf and Will Kershaw (Ed.), Sustainability in Australian business : principles and practice (pp. 315-342) Milton, QLD, Australia: John Wiley and Sons Australia.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Background:

    For some environmental impact indicators reported in life cycle assessment (LCA) (global warming potential and non-renewable energy depletion) there are clear and consistent approaches for assessing and representing results. Hence it is possible to confidently and consistently review, critique and compare results generated for these indicators. This is not the case for impact categories of relevance for agriculture - in particular water use and water quality impacts (eutrophication eco-toxicity). LCA practitioners in Australia are faced with a range of different impact assessment methods for quantifying these impacts (mostly European methods), but they have not yet been validated for Australian conditions. Consequently the research community and industry do not have confidence in results generated for these methods and are reluctant to report them or be guided by them. There is a great need to critique and validate existing available methods, and perhaps refine them accordingly for the Australian context. It will be difficult for LCA to develop as a useful and predictive tool for Australian agriculture without scientifically-validated and industry-endorsed impact assessment methods.

    Aim:

    To develop scientifically-validated characterisation factors for impact assessment of eutrophication, eco-toxicity and water use to support life cycle assessment (LCA) of agricutlure-based production in Australia.

    Tasks:

    A first step could be to test the hypothesised mis-match between environmental impact indicators generated by LCA methods and actual observation of impacts in Australia. Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) results will be generated for a range of available eutrophication, eco-toxicity and water use impact assessment methods, for a range of agricultural commodities (for example, sugarcane, grain, cotton) using inventories developed by the AusAgLCI project. These will be compared with empirical evidence or the observations of experts to verify whether current impacts characterisation methods adequately represent impacts.

    A next step could be to conduct a review of existing scientific knowledge that correlates environmental impacts (eutrophication, eco-toxicity and water depletion) in Australian water bodies to emissions from agricultural activities. A key resource for this will be the extensive water quality monitoring and modelling research conducted for the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan. Where possible characterisation factors for eutrophication and eco-toxicity and water resource depletion that are appropriate for Australia will be developed.

    Funding:

    No funding is currently available for this project, but Marguerite would be happy to assist an interested student prepare a funding application to funding bodies.