Main content area

Environmental assessment of thermal insulation composite material

Struhala, Karel, Stránská, Zuzana, Pěnčík, Jan, Matějka, Libor
The international journal of life cycle assessment 2014 v.19 no.12 pp. 1908-1918
buildings, civil engineering, composite materials, computer software, databases, electricity, energy, environmental assessment, environmental impact, insulating materials, life cycle assessment, models, raw materials, recycled materials
PURPOSE: This paper presents life cycle assessment of planned mass production of the thermal insulation blocks (TIB) made of thermal insulation composite material (TICM) from secondary raw materials—glass and plastic. This material is being developed at Brno University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering for use in structural details of (especially low energy or passive) buildings subjected to higher compressive loads. Two production modes depending on the quality of the input materials are compared. METHODS: The assessment is conducted using GaBi 4 software tool with inbuilt Ecoinvent database. The results of the assessment are presented in individual impact categories according to used characterization model (CML 2001—Dec. 07). All the necessary energy and material flows are specified in detail for the purpose of the assessment. Cut-off allocation method is used for allocating the environmental impacts of recycled materials. Part of the assessment is sensitivity analysis of one variable parameter—amount of TIB produced per year. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The results of the assessment show decisive impact of used electricity source on the overall results—86.2 and 94.3 %, respectively, for both production modes. This is closely connected with quality of used secondary raw materials and design of the production line. Use of higher-quality materials, as well as changes of the designed production line can reduce the overall environmental impacts by almost 30 %. CONCLUSIONS: The results show possible improvements in the planned mass production of the TIB. They also find that further investigation will be required before the start of mass production, especially in connection with improving the environmental impacts of used electricity sources.