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On process optimization considering LCA methodology

Pieragostini, Carla, Mussati, Miguel C., Aguirre, Pío
Journal of environmental management 2012 v.96 no.1 pp. 43-54
computer software, engineering, environmental impact, inventories, life cycle costing, life cycle impact assessment, materials life cycle, system boundary
The goal of this work is to research the state-of-the-art in process optimization techniques and tools based on LCA, focused in the process engineering field. A collection of methods, approaches, applications, specific software packages, and insights regarding experiences and progress made in applying the LCA methodology coupled to optimization frameworks is provided, and general trends are identified. The “cradle-to-gate” concept to define the system boundaries is the most used approach in practice, instead of the “cradle-to-grave” approach. Normally, the relationship between inventory data and impact category indicators is linearly expressed by the characterization factors; then, synergic effects of the contaminants are neglected. Among the LCIA methods, the eco-indicator 99, which is based on the endpoint category and the panel method, is the most used in practice. A single environmental impact function, resulting from the aggregation of environmental impacts, is formulated as the environmental objective in most analyzed cases. SimaPro is the most used software for LCA applications in literature analyzed. The multi-objective optimization is the most used approach for dealing with this kind of problems, where the ε-constraint method for generating the Pareto set is the most applied technique. However, a renewed interest in formulating a single economic objective function in optimization frameworks can be observed, favored by the development of life cycle cost software and progress made in assessing costs of environmental externalities. Finally, a trend to deal with multi-period scenarios into integrated LCA-optimization frameworks can be distinguished providing more accurate results upon data availability.