Matching Items (20)

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Life cycle assessment of wall systems

Description

Natural resource depletion and environmental degradation are the stark realities of the times we live in. As awareness about these issues increases globally, industries and businesses are becoming interested in

Natural resource depletion and environmental degradation are the stark realities of the times we live in. As awareness about these issues increases globally, industries and businesses are becoming interested in understanding and minimizing the ecological footprints of their activities. Evaluating the environmental impacts of products and processes has become a key issue, and the first step towards addressing and eventually curbing climate change. Additionally, companies are finding it beneficial and are interested in going beyond compliance using pollution prevention strategies and environmental management systems to improve their environmental performance. Life-cycle Assessment (LCA) is an evaluative method to assess the environmental impacts associated with a products' life-cycle from cradle-to-grave (i.e. from raw material extraction through to material processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and finally, disposal or recycling). This study focuses on evaluating building envelopes on the basis of their life-cycle analysis. In order to facilitate this analysis, a small-scale office building, the University Services Building (USB), with a built-up area of 148,101 ft2 situated on ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona was studied. The building's exterior envelope is the highlight of this study. The current exterior envelope is made of tilt-up concrete construction, a type of construction in which the concrete elements are constructed horizontally and tilted up, after they are cured, using cranes and are braced until other structural elements are secured. This building envelope is compared to five other building envelope systems (i.e. concrete block, insulated concrete form, cast-in-place concrete, steel studs and curtain wall constructions) evaluating them on the basis of least environmental impact. The research methodology involved developing energy models, simulating them and generating changes in energy consumption due to the above mentioned envelope types. Energy consumption data, along with various other details, such as building floor area, areas of walls, columns, beams etc. and their material types were imported into Life-Cycle Assessment software called ATHENA impact estimator for buildings. Using this four-stepped LCA methodology, the results showed that the Steel Stud envelope performed the best and less environmental impact compared to other envelope types. This research methodology can be applied to other building typologies.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Decision analysis for comparative life cycle assessment

Description

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) quantifies environmental impacts of products in raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use and final disposal. The findings of an LCA can be used to improve

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) quantifies environmental impacts of products in raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use and final disposal. The findings of an LCA can be used to improve industry practices, to aid in product development, and guide public policy. Unfortunately, existing approaches to LCA are unreliable in the cases of emerging technologies, where data is unavailable and rapid technological advances outstrip environmental knowledge. Previous studies have demonstrated several shortcomings to existing practices, including the masking of environmental impacts, the difficulty of selecting appropriate weight sets for multi-stakeholder problems, and difficulties in exploration of variability and uncertainty. In particular, there is an acute need for decision-driven interpretation methods that can guide decision makers towards making balanced, environmentally sound decisions in instances of high uncertainty. We propose the first major methodological innovation in LCA since early establishment of LCA as the analytical perspective of choice in problems of environmental management. We propose to couple stochastic multi-criteria decision analytic tools with existing approaches to inventory building and characterization to create a robust approach to comparative technology assessment in the context of high uncertainty, rapid technological change, and evolving stakeholder values. Namely, this study introduces a novel method known as Stochastic Multi-attribute Analysis for Life Cycle Impact Assessment (SMAA-LCIA) that uses internal normalization by means of outranking and exploration of feasible weight spaces.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Comparative life cycle assessment of reused versus disposable dental burs

Description

Healthcare infection control has led to increased utilization of disposable medical devices, which has subsequently led to increased adverse environmental effects attributed to healthcare and its supply chain. In dental

Healthcare infection control has led to increased utilization of disposable medical devices, which has subsequently led to increased adverse environmental effects attributed to healthcare and its supply chain. In dental practice, the dental bur is a commonly used instrument that can either be reused or used once and then disposed. To evaluate the disparities in environmental impacts of disposable and reusable dental burs, a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed. The comparative LCA evaluated a reusable dental bur (specifically, a 2.00mm Internal Irrigation Pilot Drill) reused 30 instances versus 30 identical burs used as disposables. The LCA methodology was performed using framework described by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040 series. Sensitivity analyses were performed with respect to ultrasonic and autoclave loading. Findings from this research showed that when the ultrasonic and autoclave are loaded optimally, reusable burs had 40% less of an environmental impact than burs used on a disposable basis. When the ultrasonic and autoclave were loaded to 66% capacity, there was an environmental breakeven point between disposable and reusable burs. Eutrophication, carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts, and acidification were limited when cleaning equipment (i.e., ultrasonic and autoclave) were optimally loaded. Additionally, the bur's packaging materials contributed more negative environmental impacts than the production and use of the bur itself. Therefore, less materially-intensive packaging should be used. Specifically, the glass fiber reinforced plastic casing should be substituted for a material with a reduced environmental footprint.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Addressing the Limitations of Life Cycle Assessments for Circular Economy Packaging Innovations with the Kaiteki Innovation Framework

Description

ABSTRACT

Historically, Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) guided companies to make better decisions to improve the environmental impacts of their products. However, as new Circular Economy (CE) tools emerge, the usefulness of

ABSTRACT

Historically, Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) guided companies to make better decisions to improve the environmental impacts of their products. However, as new Circular Economy (CE) tools emerge, the usefulness of LCA in assessing linear products grow more and more obsolete. Research Question: How do LCA-based tools account for reuse/multiple life cycles of products verses CE-based tools?

The Kaiteki Innovation Framework (KIF) was used to address the question of circularity of two packaging materials using an Environmental LCA to populate its 12 CE dimensions. Any gaps were evaluated with 2 LCA- based and 2 CE-based tools to see which could address the leftover CE dimensions.

Results showed that to complete the KIF template, LCA data required one of the LCA-based tools: Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) and both CE-based tools: Circular Transition Indicators (CTI) and Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) to supplement gaps in the KIF. The LCA addressed 5 of the KIF dimensions: Innovation Category Name, Description, GHG Impact, Other Environmental Impacts, and Value Chain Position. 3 analytical tools addressed 5 more:: Effect on Circularity, Social Impacts, Enabling Technologies, Tier 2 and 3 Requirements, and Value Chain Synergies. None of the tools could address the KIF Dimensions: State of Development or Scale Requirements. All in all, the KIF required both LCA-based and CE-based tools to cover social and socio-economic impacts from a cradle-to-cradle perspective with multiple circular loops in mind. These results can help in the research and development of innovative, circular products that can lead to a more environmentally preferred future.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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First-last mile life cycle assessment of Los Angeles transit

Description

With high potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may cause emissions similar to regular automobile

With high potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may cause emissions similar to regular automobile use. Due to limited literature and research that evaluates and discusses environmental impacts from first and last mile portions of transit trips, there is a lack of understanding on this topic. This research aims to comprehensively evaluate the life cycle impacts of first and last mile trips on multimodal transit. A case study of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is evaluated by using a comprehensive life cycle assessment combined with regional household travel survey data to evaluate first-last mile trip impacts in multimodal transit focusing on automobile trips accessing or egressing transit. First and last mile automobile trips were found to increase total multimodal transit trip emissions by 2 to 12 times (most extreme cases were carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds). High amounts of coal-fired energy generation can cause electric propelled rail trips with automobile access or egress to have similar or more emissions (commonly greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, and mono-nitrogen oxides) than competing automobile trips, however, most criteria air pollutants occur remotely. Methods to reduce first-last mile impacts depend on the characteristics of the transit systems and may include promoting first-last mile carpooling, adjusting station parking pricing and availability, and increased emphasis on walking and biking paths in areas with low access-egress trip distances.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Stochastic Multi Attribute Analysis for comparative life cycle assessment

Description

Comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) evaluates the relative performance of multiple products, services, or technologies with the purpose of selecting the least impactful alternative. Nevertheless, characterized results are seldom conclusive.

Comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) evaluates the relative performance of multiple products, services, or technologies with the purpose of selecting the least impactful alternative. Nevertheless, characterized results are seldom conclusive. When one alternative performs best in some aspects, it may also performs worse in others. These tradeoffs among different impact categories make it difficult to identify environmentally preferable alternatives. To help reconcile this dilemma, LCA analysts have the option to apply normalization and weighting to generate comparisons based upon a single score. However, these approaches can be misleading because they suffer from problems of reference dataset incompletion, linear and fully compensatory aggregation, masking of salient tradeoffs, weight insensitivity and difficulties incorporating uncertainty in performance assessment and weights. Consequently, most LCA studies truncate impacts assessment at characterization, which leaves decision-makers to confront highly uncertain multi-criteria problems without the aid of analytic guideposts. This study introduces Stochastic Multi attribute Analysis (SMAA), a novel approach to normalization and weighting of characterized life-cycle inventory data for use in comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The proposed method avoids the bias introduced by external normalization references, and is capable of exploring high uncertainty in both the input parameters and weights.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Developing anticipatory life cycle assessment tools to support responsible innovation

Description

Several prominent research strategy organizations recommend applying life cycle assessment (LCA) early in the development of emerging technologies. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Research Council,

Several prominent research strategy organizations recommend applying life cycle assessment (LCA) early in the development of emerging technologies. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Research Council, the Department of Energy, and the National Nanotechnology Initiative identify the potential for LCA to inform research and development (R&D) of photovoltaics and products containing engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). In this capacity, application of LCA to emerging technologies may contribute to the growing movement for responsible research and innovation (RRI). However, existing LCA practices are largely retrospective and ill-suited to support the objectives of RRI. For example, barriers related to data availability, rapid technology change, and isolation of environmental from technical research inhibit application of LCA to developing technologies. This dissertation focuses on development of anticipatory LCA tools that incorporate elements of technology forecasting, provide robust explorations of uncertainty, and engage diverse innovation actors in overcoming retrospective approaches to environmental assessment and improvement of emerging technologies. Chapter one contextualizes current LCA practices within the growing literature articulating RRI and identifies the optimal place in the stage gate innovation model to apply LCA. Chapter one concludes with a call to develop anticipatory LCA – building on the theory of anticipatory governance – as a series of methodological improvements that seek to align LCA practices with the objectives of RRI.

Chapter two provides a framework for anticipatory LCA, identifies where research from multiple disciplines informs LCA practice, and builds off the recommendations presented in the preceding chapter. Chapter two focuses on crystalline and thin film photovoltaics (PV) to illustrate the novel framework, in part because PV is an environmentally motivated technology undergoing extensive R&D efforts and rapid increases in scale of deployment. The chapter concludes with a series of research recommendations that seek to direct PV research agenda towards pathways with the greatest potential for environmental improvement.

Similar to PV, engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are an emerging technology with numerous potential applications, are the subject of active R&D efforts, and are characterized by high uncertainty regarding potential environmental implications. Chapter three introduces a Monte Carlo impact assessment tool based on the toxicity impact assessment model USEtox and demonstrates stochastic characterization factor (CF) development to prioritize risk research with the greatest potential to improve certainty in CFs. The case study explores a hypothetical decision in which personal care product developers are interested in replacing the conventional antioxidant niacinamide with the novel ENM C60, but face high data uncertainty, are unsure regarding potential ecotoxicity impacts associated with this substitution, and do not know what future risk-relevant experiments to invest in that most efficiently improve certainty in the comparison. Results suggest experiments that elucidate C60 partitioning to suspended solids should be prioritized over parameters with little influence on results. This dissertation demonstrates a novel anticipatory approach to exploration of uncertainty in environmental models that can create new, actionable knowledge with potential to guide future research and development decisions.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Computational sustainability assessment of algal biofuels and bioproducts for commercial applications

Description

To date, the production of algal biofuels is not economically sustainable due to the cost of production and the low cost of conventional fuels. As a result, interest has been

To date, the production of algal biofuels is not economically sustainable due to the cost of production and the low cost of conventional fuels. As a result, interest has been shifting to high value products in the algae community to make up for the low economic potential of algal biofuels. The economic potential of high-value products does not however, eliminate the need to consider the environmental impacts. The majority of the environmental impacts associated with algal biofuels overlap with algal bioproducts in general (high-energy dewatering) due to the similarities in their production pathways. Selecting appropriate product sets is a critical step in the commercialization of algal biorefineries.

This thesis evaluates the potential of algae multiproduct biorefineries for the production of fuel and high-value products to be economically self-sufficient and still contribute to climate change mandates laid out by the government via the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. This research demonstrates:

1) The environmental impacts of algal omega-3 fatty acid production can be lower than conventional omega-3 fatty acid production, depending on the dewatering strategy.

2) The production of high-value products can support biofuels with both products being sold at prices comparable to 2016 prices.

3) There is a tradeoff between revenue and fuel production

4) There is a tradeoff between the net energy ratio of the algal biorefinery and the economic viability due to the lower fuel production in a multi-product model that produces high-value products and diesel vs. the lower economic potential from a multi-product model that just produces diesel.

This work represents the first efforts to use life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis to assess the economic and environmental sustainability of an existing pilot-scale biorefinery tasked with the production of high-value products and biofuels. This thesis also identifies improvements for multiproduct algal biorefineries that will achieve environmentally sustainable biofuel and products while maintaining economic viability.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Sustainability assessment of community scale integrated energy systems: conceptual framework and applications

Description

One of the key infrastructures of any community or facility is the energy system which consists of utility power plants, distributed generation technologies, and building heating and cooling systems. In

One of the key infrastructures of any community or facility is the energy system which consists of utility power plants, distributed generation technologies, and building heating and cooling systems. In general, there are two dimensions to “sustainability” as it applies to an engineered system. It needs to be designed, operated, and managed such that its environmental impacts and costs are minimal (energy efficient design and operation), and also be designed and configured in a way that it is resilient in confronting disruptions posed by natural, manmade, or random events. In this regard, development of quantitative sustainability metrics in support of decision-making relevant to design, future growth planning, and day-to-day operation of such systems would be of great value. In this study, a pragmatic performance-based sustainability assessment framework and quantitative indices are developed towards this end whereby sustainability goals and concepts can be translated and integrated into engineering practices.

New quantitative sustainability indices are proposed to capture the energy system environmental impacts, economic performance, and resilience attributes, characterized by normalized environmental/health externalities, energy costs, and penalty costs respectively. A comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment is proposed which includes externalities due to emissions from different supply and demand-side energy systems specific to the regional power generation energy portfolio mix. An approach based on external costs, i.e. the monetized health and environmental impacts, was used to quantify adverse consequences associated with different energy system components.

Further, this thesis also proposes a new performance-based method for characterizing and assessing resilience of multi-functional demand-side engineered systems. Through modeling of system response to potential internal and external failures during different operational temporal periods reflective of diurnal variation in loads and services, the proposed methodology quantifies resilience of the system based on imposed penalty costs to the system stakeholders due to undelivered or interrupted services and/or non-optimal system performance.

A conceptual diagram called “Sustainability Compass” is also proposed which facilitates communicating the assessment results and allow better decision-analysis through illustration of different system attributes and trade-offs between different alternatives. The proposed methodologies have been illustrated using end-use monitored data for whole year operation of a university campus energy system.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Comparative life cycle assessment of conventional and guayule automobile tires

Description

Natural rubber and rubber products can be produced from the guayule plant (Parthenium argentatum Gray), which is a low input perennial shrub native to Mexico and the American Southwest. Guayule

Natural rubber and rubber products can be produced from the guayule plant (Parthenium argentatum Gray), which is a low input perennial shrub native to Mexico and the American Southwest. Guayule rubber has the potential to replace Hevea (Hevea brasiliensis) rubber, the most common natural rubber, and synthetic rubber, which is derived from petroleum, in a wide variety of products, including automobile tires. Rubbers make up approximately 47% of the analyzed conventional passenger tire's weight, with 31% from synthetic rubber and 16% from natural Hevea rubber. Replacing the current rubber sources used for the tire industry with guayule rubber could help reduce dependency on imported rubber in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, residues from guayule rubber are being researched as a bioenergy feedstock to further improve the environmental footprint of guayule rubber products. This study used life cycle assessment (LCA), a useful tool to determine environmental impacts from a product or process, to quantify and compare environmental impacts of the raw material extraction, transportation and manufacturing of a conventional and a guayule rubber based passenger tire. The impact results of this comparative LCA identified the major environmental impacts and contributing process and informed how the impacts from the tire production can be reduced through utilization of natural rubber co-products as electricity off-sets and reducing guayule rubber's environmental impacts through agricultural and transportation modifications. Results showed that tire raw material extraction contributed the majority of impacts in all categories, where the production of guayule rubber for guayule tires, and the production of synthetic rubber for conventional tires, were the main contributors. Guayule rubber impacts occurred mainly from electricity consumption for agricultural irrigation, while synthetic rubber is a petroleum-based material resulting in high impacts. Transportation impacts had little significance compared to other stages in the life cycle, except for smog impacts, which occurred mainly from truck transport for guayule tires, and transoceanic transport for conventional tires. Tire manufacturing impacts occurred mainly from electricity use in the facilities and were reduced with the use of guayule rubber in guayule tires.

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Date Created
  • 2014