The influence of alloy composition on the environmental impact of the production of six aluminum casting alloys (Al Si12Cu1(Fe), Al Si5Mg, Al Si9Cu3Zn3Fe, Al Si10Mg(Fe), Al Si9Cu3(Fe)(Zn) and Al Si9) has been analyzed. In order to perform a more precise environmental impact calculation, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with ReCiPe Endpoint methodology has been used, with the EcoInvent v3 AlMg3 aluminum alloy dataset as a reference. This dataset has been updated with the material composition ranges of the mentioned alloys. The balanced, maximum and minimum environmental impact values have been obtained. In general, the overall impact of the studied aluminum alloys varies from 5.98 × 10−1 pts to 1.09 pts per kg, depending on the alloy composition. In the analysis of maximum and minimum environmental impact, the alloy that has the highest uncertainty is AlSi9Cu3(Fe)(Zn), with a range of ±9%. The elements that contribute the most to increase its impact are Copper and Tin. The environmental impact of a specific case, an LED luminaire housing made out of an Al Si12Cu1(Fe) cast alloy, has been studied, showing the importance of considering the composition. Significant differences with the standard datasets that are currently available in EcoInvent v3 have been found.
This paper studies the influence of the mechanical design of five different induction hob generations (G1 to G5), which are currently installed in several million homes, on the evolution of their environmental impact. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been applied using SimaPro 220.127.116.11 and EcoInvent v2.2 database. Samples of each design were obtained to generate a life cycle inventory. These induction hobs have been developed and produced in Zaragoza (Spain). The functional unit has been defined as all of the components influenced by the mechanical design of a cooktop with four induction hobs and a width of 60 cm, including every component except the electronic boards and the use phase, as they are not affected by the mechanical design. The limits of the LCA model include the production of the raw materials and energy, the manufacture and production processes, the distribution, and the end of life. This study has revealed that the differences in mechanical design highly affect the environmental impact, especially in the environmental categories of abiotic depletion and human toxicity due to the consumption of copper, steel, and plastics. The manufacturing phase highly affects human toxicity, mainly due to the variation in PPS use. There is a decreasing tendency in the environmental impact from the first (G1) to the last generation (G5), as G5 causes the lowest burden in 8 out of 11 analysed categories. The different generations analysed in this paper show that the compact designs of induction hobs help to decrease the environmental impact, especially thanks to the reduction in wiring lengths. It is also important to enhance the wiring separation at the end-of-life phase, avoiding designs that hinder recycling processes. Compact designs and reduced wiring lengths help to reduce the environmental impact. The consumption of copper, steel, aluminium, and polymers creates considerable impact, although the end-of-life phase reduces the burden created by metals, thanks to recycling. Manufacturing processes such as injection moulding also produce a noteworthy impact, especially in ozone layer depletion due to the inclusion of solvents in EcoInvent’s injection moulding dataset. The impact caused by the distribution phase for this product is almost negligible in most categories.
During the last decades, society’s concern for the environment has increased. Specific tools like the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and software and databases to apply this method have been developed to calculate the environmental burden of products or processes. Calculating the environmental impact of plastic products is relevant as the global plastics production rose to 288 million tons in 2012. Among the different ways of processing plastics, the injection molding process is one of the most used in the industry worldwide. In this paper, a sensitivity analysis of the environmental impact of the injection molding process has been carried out. In order to perform this study, the EcoInvent database inventory for injection molding, and the data from which this database is created, have been studied. Generally, when an LCA of a product is carried out, databases such as EcoInvent, where materials, processes and transports are characterized providing average values, are used to quantify the environmental impact. This approach can be good enough in some cases but in order to assess a specific production process, like injection molding, a further level of detail is needed. This study shows how the final results of environmental impact differ for injection molding when using the PVC’s, PP’s or PET’s data. This aspect suggests the necessity of studying, in a more precise way, this process, to correctly evaluate its environmental burden. This also allows us to identify priority areas and thereby actions to develop a more sustainable way of manufacturing plastics.
Over the last two decades, the environmental conscience has been steadily growing. Nowadays a wide range of companies have started to measure the environmental impact of their products performing Life Cycle Assessment in order to reduce it and contribute to sustainable growing. This environmental awareness has also influenced legislation, for example, the European Union has devoted several laws to introduce ecodesign measures in energy-using and energy-related products. However, although most industrial products (TVs, computers, cars...) are designed and developed by engineers, most of them have not received environmental training in their university studies. In order to teach environmental design concepts to mechanical engineering undergraduates, an environmental impact assessment tool has been created. In this paper the ECOCAD software is shown, as commercially LCA software is not prepared to be used by untrained users. ECOCAD allows students to easily analyze the influence of design decisions on the environmental impact of a component, allowing them to compare different materials (steel, aluminum, plastics... each one with different Young Modules and elastic admissible strains), calculating how the safety coefficient changes depending on the loading conditions. Also the environmental impact of manufacturing processes (stamping, plastic injection, thermoforming, die cast, extrusion....), transportation from suppliers, and to the final customers (truck, train, freight ship...), and end-of-life treatments (recycling, incineration, land-filling...) can be taken into account, allowing the students to fully understand how design decisions influence the environmental impact of a product and compare design alternatives.
Environmental conscience has been growing gradually in recent decades. The market is demanding ecological actions over the products, and legislation is introducing ecodesign measures in products. Because of that, ecodesign is becoming an important discipline in engineering, to take into account the environmental impact of the product during its development, performing Life Cycle Assessment, but it is not still a common discipline in engineering. Training focused on LCA for product development is essential to introduce ecodesign between engineering students, who are not used to work with environmental concepts. The best tool for this training is LCA software to learn through the practice how to calculate the environmental impact of a design, and how this results can be used to improve their designs from an ecological point of view. This work presents the ECOTOOL, software designed to train engineers in LCA methodology. Current existing LCA software are not prepared to be used by untrained engineers, sometimes because they are difficult to be used due to large databases and the complex working environment, and sometimes they are extremely simplified, not sensitive to design modifications. ECOTOOL allows complete LCA performing with a working environment similar to other engineering tools, like professional CAD software, well known by engineers. It is provided with reduced databases, training helps, simplified results and an intuitive working environment to allow students to easily analyze the environmental impact of their designs and apply design actions to optimize it, at the same time they learn the concepts of LCA methodology. Comments to the editor: Thank you for your kind review. The claim that 'the market is demanding ecological actions' will be explained and justified in the paper, as there are links between European legislation and the environmental conscience in Europe. The expression "appropriate training" has been modified in the abstract to avoid misunderstandings. With “appropriate” we intended to mean that the training should be focused on environmental impact assessment for product development, and not just focused on environmental impact assessment in a scientific context, talking only about the calculation and the scientifically basis. For us, it is very important to focus the training in this discipline into a practical application, which is the product development, so products could be improved from an ecological point of view thanks to environmental impact assessment during the design process.
During the last decades the environmental concern of society has experienced an increase. Specific tools like the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and software and databases to apply this method have been developed to calculate the environmental burden of products or processes very diverse. Global plastics production rose to 288 million tonnes in 2012. Among the different ways of plastics processing the injection molding process is one of the most used in the industry worldwide. In this paper an analysis of the influence of the polymer in the environmental impact of the injection molding process has been carried out. In order to perform this study, the EcoInvent database inventory considered and the data from which this database is obtained for this process have been studied. In general, when a LCA of a product is carried out, databases such EcoInvent, where materials, processes and transports are characterized providing average values, are used. This approach can be good enough for some cases but in order to assess a specific process, like the injection molding process, a further level of detail is needed. This study shows how the final results of environmental impact differ significantly when modifying the generic dataset's values, using the PVC's, PP's or PET's original report data or more updated values. This aspect suggest the necessity of studying, in a more precise way, this process to evaluate its environmental burden correctly so the priority areas can be properly identified and thereby actions to develop a more sustainable way of manufacturing can be determined.
The Influence of Different Recycling Scenarios on the Mechanical Design of an LED Weatherproof Light FittingPublished: 11 August 2014 by MDPI in Materials
This paper analyzes the high relevance of material selection for the sustainable development of an LED weatherproof light fitting. The research reveals how this choice modifies current and future end of life scenarios and can reduce the overall environmental impact. This life cycle assessment has been carried out with Ecotool, a software program especially developed for designers to assess the environmental performance of their designs at the same time that they are working on them. Results show that special attention can be put on the recycling and reusing of the product from the initial stages of development.