Life Cycle Inventory Modelling Using Process Simulation to Facilitate Life Cycle Assessment of Industrial Processes

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Poster Number:  V-13 

Main Presenter:    Jannatul Ferdous 

Co-Authors:   Farid Bensebaa     Kasun Hewage      Pankaj Bhowmik      Nathan Pelletier                              

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is commonly used to quantify the environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle (i.e., from raw material extraction to disposal). There are four phases of LCA according to ISO 14040/14044 guidelines, and the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) is the most important and time-consuming phase. This phase includes assembling representative data for all of the inputs and outputs and quantifying the resources and emissions associated with the product system. Although primary (i.e. directly collected, facility-specific) data, is preferred, it is sometimes hindered by confidentiality concerns regarding proprietary processes. In case of missing industry-specific data, it is hence common to rely on secondary data from the literature. An alternative way to fill data gaps, however, is to use process simulation software (i.e., Aspen Plus, ProSim Plus) to represent the real-world scenario in a virtual model in order to simulate the material and energy
requirements based on mass and energy balances. Process simulation-based analysis has gained a lot of attention in recent years, but a consistent framework to guide practitioners in integrating process simulation with LCI modelling is lacking. To fill this gap, a systematic review was conducted to identify common practices in simulating LCI data using process simulation, including the reasons for using process simulation, approaches for simulating LCI (mass balance, energy balance), software used, validation processes, and processes to calculate and report uncertainty. Most of the studies used process simulation due to the lack of industrial data and did not report on the verification of process models and validation of simulated data. Although this approach depends on the use of simulation software, verifying the process model with industry experts to ensure it is representative of the real-world process and validating the simulated data with industry data are essential. Based on the
review findings, a methodological framework for the integration of process simulation-based LCI with traditional LCA, with a specific focus on industrial processes, is advanced.

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