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A life-cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life-cycle analysis, ecobalance, and cradle-to-grave analysis) is a technique to assess environmental impacts

associated with all the stages of a product's life from-cradle-to-grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling). LCAs can help avoid a narrow outlook on environmental concerns by:

Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases; Evaluating the potential impacts associated with identified inputs and releases;

Interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision. (Wikipedia contributors 2012)

Cradle-to-cradle is a specific kind of cradle-to-grave assessment, where the end-oflife disposal step for the product is a recycling process. It is a method used to minimize the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices and aims to incorporate social responsibility into product development. From the recycling process originate new, identical products (e.g., asphalt pavement from discarded asphalt pavement, glass bottles from collected glass bottles), or different products (e.g., glass wool insulation from collected glass bottles). Allocation of burden for products in open loop production systems presents considerable challenges for LCA. Various methods, such as the avoided burden approach have been proposed to deal with the issues involved.

Enhancing disassembly and recycling planning using lifecycle analysis

The environmental impact of these products results from interrelated decisions made at various life-cycle stages. Alting first addressed recycling and environmental problems specifically within the life cycle design (LCD) concept [also known as the life-cycle analysis (LCA), or environmentally conscious design and manufacturing (ECD&M)]. LCA is an effective means of identifying environmental burdens during each phase of the whole product life cycle, which can reduce the environmental

impact, such as global warming, and ozone problems. The LCA emphasizes that products must be produced, distributed, used and disposed of or recycled without harming the environment in any phase. However, most products have previously considered the disassembly, recycling and environmental impact analysis separately. Thus, the aim of this study is to develop a full modeling technique that can provide effective and efficient disassembly analysis and recycling strategies to meet the requirements of current developments in recycling. Both LCA and ECD&M emphasize the urgency of starting to recycle EOL products, because recycling turns waste into useful products by reusing whole parts or subassemblies. For instance, electronic materials (gallium, germanium, silicon, and indium) can be profitably recycled because of their high production cost. Many industrial processes have been presented for extracting these valuable elements from components on PCBs (Roy 1991). Two engineering technical problems, disassembly planning and recycling analysis, are inevitably confronted when systematically recycling these EOL products [7]. Disassembly planning and recycling strategies are two closely related tasks in recycling EOL products. Disassembly of used products is known to be needed to make recycling economically and environmentally viable in reprocessing technology, because most complex products cannot be recycled directly. Therefore, products must be disassembled, or dismantled into separate components or materials, to be recycled as secondary materials (Kuo 2006). The most significant challenge within the LCA framework is the assessment of the impact associated with environmental releases during the manufacturing, transport, usage and disposal of products. Impact analysis is a vast subject concerning the environmental health, or safety effect upon humans and ecosystems (e.g., land use restriction and resource depletion). The assessment of impacts is problematic because knowledge of complex physical and chemical phenomena is fairly poor. Impact analysis has in the past focused on risk analysis. Risk is the possibility of an adverse outcome associated with an event or activity [17]. Indexing and scoring are the most common methods of impact analysis. Indexing and scoring are evaluated by subjective judgment to derive a numerical rating. These scores are rarely physically meaningful in an absolute sense, but can be adopted to distinguish between the relative environmental impact of alternative methods. Although these methods are very useful, they have often been faulted for inaccuracy and failure to account for important site properties Disassembly of used products is well understood to be needed to make recycling economically and environmentally viable in the current state of the art of reprocessing technology, because most complex products cannot be recycled directly. This study presents a graph-based heuristic method to perform disassembly analysis for rollerskate products. A disassembly tree is generated based on modularity analysis (disassembly oriented) and disassembly precedence

analysis. By examining the disassembly tree, designers can evaluate how easily a designed product can be disassembled, and can then make changes to group components with similar life cycle and similar material type into the same disassembly module. Finally, the proposed disassembly model provides the environmental impact indication and design support for newly designed products. The disassembly model supports the designer early in the design cycle to allow determining the probable effects of prospective design decisions before adverse environmental impacts occur. The information needed in this disassembly model can be found in the proposed database and database management systems which are the first to fully incorporate the product structure, impact on the environmental life cycle, environmental material, and cost into the disassembly and recycling process.(Kuo 2006) It was seen that LCA is typically restricted to environmental aspects, and that it does so in a simplified way. However, as we start from the position that SA covers more dimensions or aspects than LCA, we first note that an SA is broader than an LCA. Thus, in order to move from LCA to SA, we need to broaden the scope of LCA. Adding the social and economic dimension to environmental LCA will do so. This does not necessarily mean that an SA will yield more results, more indicators, and more numbers. For instance, the broader LCA might produce results in the form of an eco-efficiency indicator. Such an indicator includes economic and environmental information, but in a combined way. Starting from the other side: an LCA is life cycle based, but an SA need not be. Sustainability indicators for countries in most cases reflect what is going on in that country in a certain year. They tend to ignore what is imported from or exported to abroad, and they in general do not account for future emissions due to today's production. Likewise, sustainability reports from companies typically focus on the company's practice as such, and do not or only partially address the supply chain or the consumer and post-consumer aspects of their products(Heijungs, Huppes, and Guine 2010). Thus, the central concept is life cycle assessment for sustainability. This means that the focus is on what might be called life cycle sustainability analysis (LCSA; (Klpffer and Heinrich 2009)): LCA with a broader focus of indicators; SA with a broader system boundary.

Life cycle design metrics for energy generation technologies

The assessment of life cycle environmental impacts for energy generation and other technologies is described by the International Standards Organizations (ISOs) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) standards (in the ISO14040 series [2]). In the ISO LCA process, material and energy use and waste are estimated for each life cycle process and for the system as a whole (e.g., how much energy is consumed and carbon dioxide is emitted by processes throughout the life cycle). From this energy and materials inventory, the contribution of the life cycle to a variety of environmental impacts is estimated (e.g., how much do the life cycle air emissions contribute to global climate change). As technologies move from the laboratory to wide-scale use, knowing the potential life cycle contribution to environmental impacts provides valuable insights into the evaluation of design variants, in the comparison to other energy generation technologies, and in meeting corporate, community, and national goals. In addition to protocol standardization, LCA practice has substantially changed since the early 1990s. Practitioners have developed sophisticated software tools and extensive database systems to assist in the preparation of inventory analyses and impact assessments and to interpret the results. However, the use of many of these databases and software tools requires a relatively high level of training and a relatively detailed engineering knowledge of industrial process data and modeling, chemical fate and transport modeling, and eco system and human response. Further,many have been created using proprietary and unpublished computational structures and restrict the publication of the data supporting the assessment making a detailed review of assumptions and comparative assertions impossible. Finally, many of these databases and software tools have been developed to describe a very wide variety of technologies and often lack the ability to model a specic technology. As a result, preparing technology-specic LCA models can be time consuming, making such assessments unattractive for use in rapid design cycles. The development of a LCA-based method for rapid results is not new. Example existing methods include Prs Eco-Indicators [3] and Arizona State Universitys Okala Impact Factors [4], both intended to be applicable to a wide variety of technologies. Also, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technologys BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability [5]1) tools provide LCA results specically applicable to buildings and to bioproducts. Although each of these tools is able to produce results in a rapid timeframe, all have been developed using SimaPro, a LCA software and data system with restrictions on

data publication (the software must be purchased to review and repeat and the LCA results). Further, both the Pr Eco-Indicators and the Okala Impact Factors use a predetermined valuation scheme. This means that user cannot consider their own priorities among life cycle environmental impacts (i.e., they cannot specify the relative importance among design goals such as how much more or less important climate change is when compared to smog formation). Thus, the primary objective of this work is to provide a method to assist in the rapid preparation of LCAs that is (1) sensitive to a wide variety of design parameters specic to energy generation technologies (including variations in system hardware materials and congurations, in transportation options, in assembly energy use, in operating performance and consumables, and in fuels and fuel production scenarios, as well as in comparison to a variety of conventional systems); (2) based on highly peer reviewed and publicly available LCA data that provide results suitable for both internal decision-making and external communications (with the version described here focusing on U.S. manufacturing and operation); and (3) allows the environmental impact weighting scheme to be specied. A second objective is to demonstrate the use of the LCA method in comparing baseline and alternative designs, and in the comparison of emerging systems to conventional options (Cooper et al. 2009).

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