Life Cycle Assessment at GE: Strategy and Application | AIChE

Life Cycle Assessment at GE: Strategy and Application


GE's Global Research Center has launched an Ecoassessment Center of Excellence that includes technical expertise in life cycle assessment. The team works with the GE businesses, Global Research, and Corporate Environmental Programs on a variety of product-focused environmental issues. This presentation will focus on GE's evolving vision for LCA as a support tool for new product development and improvement. In addition to comprehensive life cycle assessments, the team is working to implement simplified life cycle tools and processes to guide its internal product development teams. Successes and challenges in these areas will be illustrated with specific examples.

Our approach at the Ecoassessment Center of Excellence is to apply LCA methodologies strategically and selectively. The drivers for LCA within GE are diverse, yet share a common thread: we tend to focus on business-driven product and technology scenarios that require a deeper understanding of complex environmental metrics. A major focus of this presentation will be to explore the drivers and business-context for LCA within GE.

Our LCA efforts support selected company activities in a variety of functional areas including business development, research & development, product development, product evaluation, and commercial support. Illustrative project examples will include alternative liquid fuels, advanced batteries, thin-film solar, disposable products for the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, and a pilot Design for Environment activity for medical equipment components.

Our quantitative LCA project execution experience is leading us in new directions as we begin to explore a broader suite of LCA methodologies ranging from comprehensive LCA to streamlined and qualitative LCA techniques. These latter approaches, along with Design for Environment concepts, can be potentially useful for screening and directional guidance, and to expand the application of life cycle concepts beyond the limited reach of expert LCA teams. While LCA is not a panacea, this presentation highlights the benefits and limitations of LCA within a dynamic and innovative business environment.


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