(587a) Rapid Estimation of Life Cycle Inventories

Authors: 
Smith, R. L., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Meyer, D. E., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ruiz-Mercado, G. J., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Gonzalez, M. A., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Abraham, J. P., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Barrett, W. M., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Randall, P. M., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Growing chemical use is a challenge to both chemical manufacturers and regulators given the emerging desire to evolve into a sustainable society. Sustainable chemicals provide benefits to society through their designated functions while minimizing their associated environmental and economic risks related to items such as resource consumption, health and safety, and profitability. As part of alternative chemical assessments, the methodological framework known as life cycle assessment (LCA) accounts for resource use and releases from a network of processes within the life cycle of a product, including extraction, production steps, use, and disposal / recycling. However, a significant challenge to using LCA is the extensive material and energy flow data needed to support assessments. This poster describes methods that can be used to determine the life cycle inventory (LCI) of necessary data to enable LCA and alternative chemical assessments.

The approach to developing LCI data is comprised of four efforts. The first effort focuses on Top-Down Data Mining, which collects data for facilities from EPA sources: Chemical Data Reporting (CDR), National Emissions Inventory (NEI), Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR), etc. Steps for application of data mining and subsequent manipulation are illustrated in Cashman et al. [1]. The second effort applies Bottom-Up Simulation, where design and simulation are used to develop energy and material flows of the system. Additional techniques for estimating uncontrolled emissions from chemical processing equipment are then applied to obtain a detailed emission profile for the process [2]. This simulation method is refined by applying pollution controls to update resource use and controlled emissions. The third effort determines the LCI Chemical Lineage, which quickly determines the chemicals involved in an LCA study, defining the lineage of parents and children in the supply chain of a chemical. Finally, the fourth effort is LCI Reconciliation, which, through the combination of methods, aims to produce inventories that are qualitatively and quantitatively better than the individual methods.

[1] Cashman, S.A., Meyer, D.E., Edelen, A., Ingwersen, W., Abraham, J., Barrett, W., Gonzalez, M., Randall, P., Ruiz-Mercado, G., Smith, R.L. (2016). “Mining Available Data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to Support Rapid Life Cycle Inventory Modeling of Chemical Manufacturing,” Environ. Sci. Technol., 50, 9013-9025.

[2] Smith, R.L., Ruiz-Mercado, G.J., Meyer, D.E., Gonzalez, M.A., Abraham, J.P., Barrett, W.M., Randall, P.M. (2017). “Coupling Computer-Aided Process Simulation and Estimations of Emissions and Land Use for Rapid Life Cycle Inventory Modeling,” ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. (Accepted).

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.