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Provo J.,Pe international inc. | Fava J.,Pe international inc. | Baer S.,Pe international inc.
Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering | Year: 2013

Chemical engineers assume a broad range of functions in industry, spanning the development of new process designs, the maintenance and optimization of incumbent systems, and the production of intermediate materials, end products and new technologies. The technical aptitude that enables the chemical engineer to fulfill these various roles along the value chain makes them compelling participants in the environmental assessment of the product in question. This article provides a brief overview of LCA and how chemical engineers will find it accessible, both in terms of technical exercise as well as in utility to sustainability functions. It also examines some of the issues that can arise when performing an LCA on a chemical product and proposes ways to address them and improve the LCA situation in the chemical industry. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Koffler C.,PE International Inc. | Florin J.,PE International AG
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2013

For some metals, downcycling appears when scrap is polluted with undesirable elements or mixed with lower quality scrap grades in a way that the material displays a change in inherent properties when recycled. The article recommends the use of different scrap class prices instead of a solitary secondary alloy price to represent the level of downcycling inflicted on aluminum over a product's life cycle. The price ratio between scrap price and primary aluminum price is shown to be stable across all available scrap classes for the years 2007-2010. While the revised approach to value-corrected substitution (VCS) puts a stronger emphasis on the creation of high-quality scrap by penalizing its pollution more than the original version, its key limitation is the correct identification of the appropriate point of substitution along the scrap value chain. If relevant sorting or pre-treatment steps are omitted, the substitution factor would be overcorrected, which is why it is crucial to establish the scrap value right before the scrap is either mixed with scraps from other product systems or right before it enters the remelting step. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2014

Purpose: In the transportation sector, reducing vehicle weight is a cornerstone strategy to improve the fuel economy and energy efficiency of road vehicles. This study investigated the environmental implications of lightweighting two automotive parts (Ford Taurus front end bolster, Chevrolet Trailblazer/GMC Envoy assist step) using glass-fiber reinforced polymers (GFRP) instead of steel alloys. Methods: The cradle-to-grave life cycle assessments (LCAs) for these studies consider a total service life of 150,000 miles for two applications: a 46 % lighter GFRP bolster on the 2010 Ford Taurus that replaced the 2008 steel and GFRP bolster, and a 51 % lighter GFRP running board for the 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer/GMC Envoy that replaced the previous steel running board including its polymer fasteners the life cycle stages in these critically reviewed and ISO-compliant LCA studies include the production of upstream materials and energy, product manufacturing, use, and the end-of-life treatment for all materials throughout the life cycle. Results and discussion: The results show that the lighter GFRP products performed better than the steel products for global warming potential and primary energy demand for both case studies. In addition, the GFRP bolster performed better for acidification potential the savings of fuel combustion and production during the use stage of a vehicle far outweigh the environmental impacts of manufacturing or end-of-life. An even greater benefit would be possible if the total weight reduction in the vehicle would be high enough to allow for the reduction of engine displacement or an elongation of gear ratio while maintaining constant vehicle dynamics these so-called secondary measures allow the fuel savings per unit of mass to be more than doubled and are able to offset the slightly higher acidification potential of the GFRP running board which occurs when only the mass-induced fuel savings are considered. Conclusions: The lightweight GFRP components are shown to outperform their steel counterparts over the full life cycle mainly due to the reduced fuel consumption of the vehicle in the use phase. To harvest the benefits of light weighting to their full extent, it is recommended that the sum of all mass reductions in the design process be monitored and, whenever feasible, invested into fuel economy by adapting the drive train while maintaining constant vehicle performance rather than leveraging the weight reduction to improve vehicle dynamics. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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