Sustainability and Materials Selection


The curricular unit intends to perform an unifying role for the body of knowledge acquired by the student throughout the course, stimulating the building of a relational approach to the different classes of materials, through a comparative insight of their structures, properties and behaviours, within bounds set by technological, economic and environmental limitations.
During the UC, the student must come to dominate the relationships within the structure- properties-processing triangle, and become able to translate them into the selection process of a material for a given application, taking into account the pertaining environmental and cost factors. To do so, he/she will become proefficient with the Ashby selection methodology, and in the process will internalize behaviours related to time management and scheduling, information research and initiative.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Alexandre José da Costa Velhinho


Weekly - 3

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





 Michael F. Ashby, “Materials Selection in Mechanical Design", 4th edition, ed. Elsevier – Butterworth Heinemann  (2005), 603 pp.
[ISBN 0-7506-6168-2]
 Michael F. Ashby, “Materials and the Environment – Eco-informed Materials Choice", 1st edition, ed. Elsevier – Butterworth Heinemann  (2009), 400 pp.
[ISBN 978-1-85617-608-8]
 Michael F. Ashby, Kara Johnson, “Materials and Design – The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design", 1st edition, ed. Elsevier – Butterworth Heinemann  (2010), 344pp.
[ ISBN 978-1-85617-497-8]

Teaching method

The theorectical lectures are of expositive nature, supported by projection of slides, with resolution of some illustrative exercices.


The practical lectures are used for small project resolution within the Materials Selection scope, using mostly the software EduPack.


Tutorial support offered during development of a final Materials Selection project by the student.

Evaluation method

Attendance conditions:

- Minimum Lecture Attendance: 90% of the practical sessions.

Continuous assessment:
- Test 1 (T1)
- Test 2 (T2)

Conditions for exemption from final examination: ND ≥ 9,5                    

with ND = 0,5 × (T1 + T2)

Final classification (NF):

- If exempt from examination:
                 NF = ND
- If not exempt from examination:*:
                  NF = NE
    * Provided that the minimum score obtained in the examination,  NE ≥ 9,5.

Subject matter

  • Sustainability

    • Materials, energy and sustainability

    • Sustainable development

    • Sustainability evaluation

      • Complex systems

      • Evaluation tools

    • Risks concerning materials provisioning

      • Emerging constraints

      • Price volatility

      • Monopolist providers

      • Geopolitical risks

      • Armed conflict

      • Regulatory risks

      • Critical materials

      • Risk management

    • Corporate responsability

    • Materials in the optics of a Circular Economy

      • The Circular Economy vision

      • Materials Circular Economy

      • Implementation paths

  • Materials Selection as a tool for Sustainability

    • Materials Selection within the Product Design process

      • Materials History

      • Materials diversity

      • Evolution of materials'''''''''''''''' applications

    • Engineering design

      • The design process

      • Design tools and design data

      • Function, Material, Shape and Process

      • The role of the material''''''''''''''''s engineering

    • Properties of engineering materials

      • Classes of materials

      • Materials data

      • Generic properties

      • Mechanical properties

      • Thermal properties

      • Electrical properties

      • Optical properties

      • Ecological characteristics

    • Graphical representation of properties

      • Property domains graphs

    • Materials selection methodology

      • Selection of materials based on function

      • Materials attributes

      • Selection strategies

      • Selection method

      • Multiple constraints and conflicting objectives

      • Simultaneous selection of shape and material

      • Process selection

      • Cost modelling

      • Environmental concerns

      • Materials and Design


Programs where the course is taught: