Development of an interface between life cycle assessment and process simulation

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a powerful tool to get a holistic view on the environmental impact of a product or a product system. The implementation of a life cycle assessment is precisely specified in the ISO 14040/44 standards and different specific software tools are available.

In this research group, we are developing methods to apply the LCA already at an early stage of process design as an ex ante approach in order to provide decision support in the direction of sustainable development.

The life cycle inventory, where all the input and output data for each module in the life cycle chain (from cradle to grave) have to be collected or calculated, is the most time consuming phase. The data usually come from different sources like experimental data in lab- or pilot scale, generic data or data from (process) simulation.

In this early stage of process development process simulation data are often used and usually transferred „manually“ into the LCA software. However, there are already various approaches in the literature on how to link LCA software with a simulation tool in order to transfer different operating states or changes in parameters directly into an ecological screening. These approaches will first be collected and evaluated through a systematic literature review.

In a further step, an interface for a lignin extraction process in a process simulation software and a life cycle assessment tool is to be developed and tested in a simple application example in the lignocellulosic biorefinery.

Tasks:

  • Literature review and evaluation
  • Basic training in process simulation, life cycle analysis and/or C/C++/python programming;
  • Modelling and testing in an application example.

Contact:

Dr. Bettina Mihalyi bettina.mihalyi@tuwien.ac.at