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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "B: Energy and Environment".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020) | Viewed by 63305

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Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Chemistry “Toso Montanari”, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, 40136 Bologna, Italy
Interests: environmental chemistry; chemistry of cultural heritage; life cycle assessment (LCA)
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Chemistry, University of Bologna, viale Risorgimento, 4, 40136 Bologna, Italy
Interests: material cycles; industrial ecology; critical materials; environmental sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The transition towards renewable energy sources and “green” technologies for energy generation and storage is expected to mitigate the climate emergency in the coming years. However, in many cases, this progress has been hampered by our dependency on critical materials or other resources that are often processed at high environmental burdens. Yet, beyond global warming, several global challenges have to be promptly addressed, including the loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution, water scarcity, and energy security.

Many studies have shown that environmental and energy issues are strictly interconnected and require a comprehensive understanding of resource management strategies and their implications. For instance, the depletion and contamination of a vital resource like water has been related to possible shortages in heat and power generation, distribution and use; on the other hand, water supply requires energy inputs, particularly if the most common sources of natural provision (e.g., groundwater) are not easily accessible. Actions undertaken in separately considered systems may hinder the achievement of optimized benefits and reduction of adverse consequences.

A system perspective is hence needed to identify and quantify the impact of human activity on the environment. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is among the most inclusive analytical techniques to analyze sustainability benefits and trade-offs resulting from complex systems. This Special Issue welcomes original articles, reviews, and case studies focusing on mutual influences of environmental and energy systems.

Prof. Fabrizio Passarini
Dr. Luca Ciacci
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • energy security
  • nexus analysis
  • climate emergency
  • water scarcity
  • wind energy
  • thermoelectric
  • hydroelectric
  • critical materials
  • environmental impacts
  • human toxicity
  • sustainability challenge

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Editorial

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8 pages, 183 KiB  
Editorial
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems
by Luca Ciacci and Fabrizio Passarini
Energies 2020, 13(22), 5892; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13225892 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 4063
Abstract
The transition towards renewable energy sources and “green” technologies for energy generation and storage is expected to mitigate the climate emergency in the coming years [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

30 pages, 7880 KiB  
Article
The Environmental Potential of Phase Change Materials in Building Applications. A Multiple Case Investigation Based on Life Cycle Assessment and Building Simulation
by Roberta Di Bari, Rafael Horn, Björn Nienborg, Felix Klinker, Esther Kieseritzky and Felix Pawelz
Energies 2020, 13(12), 3045; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13123045 - 12 Jun 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2580
Abstract
New materials and technologies have become the main drivers for reducing energy demand in the building sector in recent years. Energy efficiency can be reached by utilization of materials with thermal storage potential; among them, phase change materials (PCMs) seem to be promising. [...] Read more.
New materials and technologies have become the main drivers for reducing energy demand in the building sector in recent years. Energy efficiency can be reached by utilization of materials with thermal storage potential; among them, phase change materials (PCMs) seem to be promising. If they are used in combination with solar collectors in heating applications or with water chillers or in chilled ceilings in cooling applications, PCMs can provide ecological benefits through energy savings during the building’s operational phase. However, their environmental value should be analyzed by taking into account their whole lifecycle. The purpose of this paper is the assessment of PCMs at the material level as well as at higher levels, namely the component and building levels. Life cycle assessment analyses are based on information from PCM manufacturers and building energy simulations. With the newly developed software “Storage LCA Tool” (Version 1.0, University of Stuttgart, IABP, Stuttgart, Germany), PCM storage systems can be compared with traditional systems that do not entail energy storage. Their benefits can be evaluated in order to support decision-making on energy concepts for buildings. The collection of several case studies shows that PCM energy concepts are not always advantageous. However, with conclusive concepts, suitable storage dimensioning and ecologically favorable PCMs, systems can be realized that have a lower environmental impact over the entire life cycle compared to traditional systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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27 pages, 1775 KiB  
Article
Life Cycle Assessment and Energy Balance of a Novel Polyhydroxyalkanoates Production Process with Mixed Microbial Cultures Fed on Pyrolytic Products of Wastewater Treatment Sludge
by Luciano Vogli, Stefano Macrelli, Diego Marazza, Paola Galletti, Cristian Torri, Chiara Samorì and Serena Righi
Energies 2020, 13(11), 2706; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13112706 - 28 May 2020
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 4029
Abstract
A “cradle-to-grave” life cycle assessment is performed to identify the environmental issues of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) produced through a hybrid thermochemical-biological process using anaerobically digested sewage sludge (ADSS) as feedstock. The assessment includes a measure of the energy performance of the process. The system [...] Read more.
A “cradle-to-grave” life cycle assessment is performed to identify the environmental issues of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) produced through a hybrid thermochemical-biological process using anaerobically digested sewage sludge (ADSS) as feedstock. The assessment includes a measure of the energy performance of the process. The system boundary includes: (i) Sludge pyrolysis followed by volatile fatty acids (VFAs) production; (ii) PHAs-enriched biomass production using a mixed microbial culture (MMC); (iii) PHAs extraction with dimethyl carbonate; and iv) PHAs end-of-life. Three scenarios differing in the use of the syngas produced by both pyrolysis and biochar gasification, and two more scenarios differing only in the external energy sources were evaluated. Results show a trade-off between environmental impacts at global scale, such as climate change and resources depletion, and those having an effect at the local/regional scale, such as acidification, eutrophication, and toxicity. Process configurations based only on the sludge-to-PHAs route require an external energy supply, which determines the highest impacts with respect to climate change, resources depletion, and water depletion. On the contrary, process configurations also integrating the sludge-to-energy route for self-sustainment imply more onsite sludge processing and combustion; this results in the highest values of eutrophication, ecotoxicity, and human toxicity. There is not a categorical winner among the investigated configurations; however, the use of a selected mix of external renewable sources while using sludge to produce PHAs only seems the best compromise. The results are comparable to those of both other PHAs production processes found in the literature and various fossil-based and bio-based polymers, in terms of both non-biogenic GHG emissions and energy demand. Further process advancements and technology improvement in high impact stages are required to make this PHAs production process a competitive candidate for the production of biopolymers on a wide scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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16 pages, 3632 KiB  
Article
Identification of Suitable Areas for Biomass Power Plant Construction through Environmental Impact Assessment of Forest Harvesting Residues Transportation
by Maria Pergola, Angelo Rita, Alfonso Tortora, Maria Castellaneta, Marco Borghetti, Antonio Sergio De Franchi, Antonio Lapolla, Nicola Moretti, Giovanni Pecora, Domenico Pierangeli, Luigi Todaro and Francesco Ripullone
Energies 2020, 13(11), 2699; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13112699 - 28 May 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3798
Abstract
In accordance with European objectives, the Basilicata region intends to promote the use of energy systems and heat generators powered by lignocellulosic biomass, so the present study aimed to investigate the availability of logging residues and most suitable areas for the construction of [...] Read more.
In accordance with European objectives, the Basilicata region intends to promote the use of energy systems and heat generators powered by lignocellulosic biomass, so the present study aimed to investigate the availability of logging residues and most suitable areas for the construction of bioenergy production plants. The life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology was employed to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the biomass distribution and its transport, and spatial LCA was used to evaluate the impact of regional transport. One cubic meter kilometer (m3 km−1) was used as the functional unit and a small lorry was considered for the transport. The results showed that the available harvesting residues amounted to 36,000 m3 and their loading environmental impact accounted for 349 mPt m−3. The impacts of transport (4.01 mPt m−3) ranged from 3.4 to 144,400 mPt km−1 forest parcel−1, mainly affecting human health (95%) and, second, the ecosystem quality (5%). Three possible sites for bioenergy plant location were identified considering the environmental impact distribution due to feedstock transport. Findings from this research show the importance of considering the LCA of biomass acquisition in site selection and can fill the knowledge gaps in the available literature about spatial LCA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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25 pages, 3216 KiB  
Article
Bridging Tools to Better Understand Environmental Performances and Raw Materials Supply of Traction Batteries in the Future EU Fleet
by Silvia Bobba, Isabella Bianco, Umberto Eynard, Samuel Carrara, Fabrice Mathieux and Gian Andrea Blengini
Energies 2020, 13(10), 2513; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13102513 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3818
Abstract
Sustainable and smart mobility and associated energy systems are key to decarbonise the EU and develop a clean, resource efficient, circular and carbon-neutral future. To achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets, technological and societal changes are needed. This transition will inevitably change the [...] Read more.
Sustainable and smart mobility and associated energy systems are key to decarbonise the EU and develop a clean, resource efficient, circular and carbon-neutral future. To achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets, technological and societal changes are needed. This transition will inevitably change the composition of the future EU fleet, with an increasing share of electric vehicles (xEVs). To assess the potential contribution of lithium-ion traction batteries (LIBs) in decreasing the environmental burdens of EU mobility, several aspects should be included. Even though environmental assessments of batteries along their life-cycle have been already conducted using life-cycle assessment, a single tool does not likely provide a complete overview of such a complex system. Complementary information is provided by material flow analysis and criticality assessment, with emphasis on supply risk. Bridging complementary aspects can better support decision-making, especially when different strategies are simultaneously tackled. The results point out that the future life-cycle GWP of traction LIBs will likely improve, mainly due to more environmental-friendly energy mix and improved recycling. Even though second-use will postpone available materials for recycling, both these end-of-life strategies allow keeping the values of materials in the circular economy, with recycling also contributing to mitigate the supply risk of Lithium and Nickel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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18 pages, 3067 KiB  
Article
Environmental Assessment of a Coal Power Plant with Carbon Dioxide Capture System Based on the Activated Carbon Adsorption Process: A Case Study of the Czech Republic
by Kristína Zakuciová, Jiří Štefanica, Ana Carvalho and Vladimír Kočí
Energies 2020, 13(9), 2251; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13092251 - 04 May 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3211
Abstract
The Czech Republic is introducing new technological concepts for mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in coal-based energy industries. One such technology, in power plants, is post combustion CO2 capture from flue gases by activated carbon adsorption. A life cycle assessment (LCA) was [...] Read more.
The Czech Republic is introducing new technological concepts for mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in coal-based energy industries. One such technology, in power plants, is post combustion CO2 capture from flue gases by activated carbon adsorption. A life cycle assessment (LCA) was used as the assessment tool to determine the environmental impacts of the chosen technology. This article focuses on a comparative LCA case study on the technology of temperature-swing adsorption of CO2 from power plant flue gases, designed for the conditions of the Czech Republic. The LCA study compares the following two alternatives: (1) a reference power unit and (2) a reference power unit with CO2 adsorption. The most significant changes are observed in the categories of climate change potential, terrestrial acidification, and particulate matter formation. The adsorption process shows rather low environmental impacts, however, the extended LCA approach shows an increase in energy demands for the process and fossil depletion as a result of coal-based national energy mix. The feasibility of the study is completed by the preliminary economical calculation of the payback period for a commercial carbon capture unit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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15 pages, 1375 KiB  
Article
The Role of Biorefinery Co-Products, Market Proximity and Feedstock Environmental Footprint in Meeting Biofuel Policy Goals for Winter Barley-to-Ethanol
by Sabrina Spatari, Alexander Stadel, Paul R. Adler, Saurajyoti Kar, William J. Parton, Kevin B. Hicks, Andrew J. McAloon and Patrick L. Gurian
Energies 2020, 13(9), 2236; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13092236 - 03 May 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3470
Abstract
Renewable fuel standards for biofuels have been written into policy in the U.S. to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of transportation energy supply. Biofuel feedstocks sourced from within a regional market have the potential to also address sustainability goals. The U.S. Mid-Atlantic [...] Read more.
Renewable fuel standards for biofuels have been written into policy in the U.S. to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of transportation energy supply. Biofuel feedstocks sourced from within a regional market have the potential to also address sustainability goals. The U.S. Mid-Atlantic region could meet the advanced fuel designation specified in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), which requires a 50% reduction in GHG emissions relative to a gasoline baseline fuel, through ethanol produced from winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). We estimate technology configurations and winter barley grown on available winter fallow agricultural land in six Mid-Atlantic states. Using spatially weighted stochastic GHG emission estimates for winter barley supply from 374 counties and biorefinery data from a commercial dry-grind facility design with multiple co-products, we conclude that winter barley would meet RFS2 goals even with the U.S. EPA’s indirect land use change estimates. Using a conservative threshold for soil GHG emissions sourced from barley produced on winter fallow lands in the U.S. MidAtlantic, a biorefinery located near densely populated metropolitan areas in the Eastern U.S. seaboard could economically meet the requirements of an advanced biofuel with the co-production of CO2 for the soft drink industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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28 pages, 4676 KiB  
Article
A Prospective Net Energy and Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of the UK Electricity Grid
by Marco Raugei, Mashael Kamran and Allan Hutchinson
Energies 2020, 13(9), 2207; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13092207 - 02 May 2020
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 6085
Abstract
National Grid, the UK’s largest utility company, has produced a number of energy transition scenarios, among which “2 degrees” is the most aggressive in terms of decarbonization. This paper presents the results of a combined prospective net energy and environmental life cycle assessment [...] Read more.
National Grid, the UK’s largest utility company, has produced a number of energy transition scenarios, among which “2 degrees” is the most aggressive in terms of decarbonization. This paper presents the results of a combined prospective net energy and environmental life cycle assessment of the UK electricity grid, based on such a scenario. The main findings are that the strategy is effective at drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions (albeit to a reduced degree with respect to the projected share of “zero carbon” generation taken at face value), but it entails a trade-off in terms of depletion of metal resources. The grid’s potential toxicity impacts are also expected to remain substantially undiminished with respect to the present. Overall, the analysis indicates that the “2 degrees” scenario is environmentally sound and that it even leads to a modest increase in the net energy delivered to society by the grid (after accounting for the energy investments required to deploy all technologies). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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15 pages, 4693 KiB  
Article
Influence of Waste Management on the Environmental Footprint of Electricity Produced by Photovoltaic Systems
by Sina Herceg, Sebastián Pinto Bautista and Karl-Anders Weiß
Energies 2020, 13(9), 2146; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13092146 - 01 May 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3480
Abstract
PV waste management will gain relevance proportionally to the amounts of waste that are expected to arise with the phasing-out of old installations in the upcoming years and decades. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is used here to analyze the environmental performance [...] Read more.
PV waste management will gain relevance proportionally to the amounts of waste that are expected to arise with the phasing-out of old installations in the upcoming years and decades. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is used here to analyze the environmental performance of photovoltaic systems and the waste management methods that have been developed recently. Several LCA studies have already been performed for PV technologies, but in most cases these do not include the end of life stage, thus there is still uncertainty about the impacts of recycling on the environmental footprint of PV electricity. The present study offers a more detailed analysis of different end-of-life approaches for the main photovoltaic technologies that are found on the market. The results from the analysis demonstrate that recycling has the potential to improve the environmental profile of PV electricity but at the same time there is room for further improvements in developing dedicated recycling technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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15 pages, 1328 KiB  
Article
Chronological Transition of Relationship between Intracity Lifecycle Transport Energy Efficiency and Population Density
by Shoki Kosai, Muku Yuasa and Eiji Yamasue
Energies 2020, 13(8), 2094; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13082094 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2845
Abstract
Interests in evaluating lifecycle energy use in urban transport have been growing as a research topic. Various studies have evaluated the relationship between the intracity transport energy use and population density and commonly identified its negative correlation. However, a diachronic transition in an [...] Read more.
Interests in evaluating lifecycle energy use in urban transport have been growing as a research topic. Various studies have evaluated the relationship between the intracity transport energy use and population density and commonly identified its negative correlation. However, a diachronic transition in an individual city has yet to be fully analyzed. As such, this study employed transport energy intensity widely used for evaluating transport energy efficiency and obtained the transport energy intensity for each transportation means including walk, bicycle, automobile (conventional vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles), bus and electric train by considering the lifecycle energy consumption. Then, the intracity lifecycle transport energy intensity of 38 cities in Japan in 1987–2015 was computed, assuming that the cause of diachronic transition of intracity transport energy efficiency is the modal shifting and electricity mix change. As a result, the greater level of population density was associated with the lower intracity transport energy intensity in Japanese cities. The negative slope of its regression line increased over time since the intracity lifecycle transport energy intensity in cities with low population density continuously increased without any significant change of population density. Finally, this study discussed the strategic implications particularly in regional areas to improve the intracity lifecycle transport energy efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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17 pages, 3298 KiB  
Article
A Building Life-Cycle Embodied Performance Index—The Relationship between Embodied Energy, Embodied Carbon and Environmental Impact
by Ming Hu
Energies 2020, 13(8), 1905; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13081905 - 13 Apr 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 4543
Abstract
Knowledge and research tying the environmental impact and embodied energy together is a largely unexplored area in the building industry. The aim of this study is to investigate the practicality of using the ratio between embodied energy and embodied carbon to measure the [...] Read more.
Knowledge and research tying the environmental impact and embodied energy together is a largely unexplored area in the building industry. The aim of this study is to investigate the practicality of using the ratio between embodied energy and embodied carbon to measure the building’s impact. This study is based on life-cycle assessment and proposes a new measure: life-cycle embodied performance (LCEP), in order to evaluate building performance. In this project, eight buildings located in the same climate zone with similar construction types are studied to test the proposed method. For each case, the embodied energy intensities and embodied carbon coefficients are calculated, and four environmental impact categories are quantified. The following observations can be drawn from the findings: (a) the ozone depletion potential could be used as an indicator to predict the value of LCEP; (b) the use of embodied energy and embodied carbon independently from each other could lead to incomplete assessments; and (c) the exterior wall system is a common significant factor influencing embodied energy and embodied carbon. The results lead to several conclusions: firstly, the proposed LCEP ratio, between embodied energy and embodied carbon, can serve as a genuine indicator of embodied performance. Secondly, environmental impact categories are not dependent on embodied energy, nor embodied carbon. Rather, they are proportional to LCEP. Lastly, among the different building materials studied, metal and concrete express the highest contribution towards embodied energy and embodied carbon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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24 pages, 4337 KiB  
Article
Eco-Energetical Life Cycle Assessment of Materials and Components of Photovoltaic Power Plant
by Izabela Piasecka, Patrycja Bałdowska-Witos, Katarzyna Piotrowska and Andrzej Tomporowski
Energies 2020, 13(6), 1385; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13061385 - 16 Mar 2020
Cited by 37 | Viewed by 4153
Abstract
During the conversion of solar radiation into electricity, photovoltaic installations do not emit harmful compounds into the environment. However, the stage of production and post-use management of their elements requires large amounts of energy and materials. Therefore, this publication was intended to conduct [...] Read more.
During the conversion of solar radiation into electricity, photovoltaic installations do not emit harmful compounds into the environment. However, the stage of production and post-use management of their elements requires large amounts of energy and materials. Therefore, this publication was intended to conduct an eco-energy life cycle analysis of photovoltaic power plant materials and components based on the LCA method. The subject of the study was a 1 MW photovoltaic power plant, located in Poland. Eco-indicator 99, CED and IPCC were used as calculation procedures. Among the analyzed elements of the power plant, the highest level of negative impact on the environment was characterized by the life cycle of photovoltaic panels stored at the landfill after exploitation (the highest demand for energy, materials and CO2 emissions). Among the materials of the power plant distinguished by the highest harmful effect on health and the quality of the environment stands out: silver, nickel, copper, PA6, lead and cadmium. The use of recycling processes would reduce the negative impact on the environment in the context of the entire life cycle, for most materials and elements. Based on the results obtained, guidelines were proposed for the pro-environmental post-use management of materials and elements of photovoltaic power plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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15 pages, 1909 KiB  
Article
Environmental Performance of Innovative Ground-Source Heat Pumps with PCM Energy Storage
by Emanuele Bonamente and Andrea Aquino
Energies 2020, 13(1), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010117 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 4421
Abstract
Space conditioning is responsible for the majority of carbon dioxide emission and fossil fuel consumption during a building’s life cycle. The exploitation of renewable energy sources, together with efficiency enhancement, is the most promising solution. An innovative layout for ground-source heat pumps, featuring [...] Read more.
Space conditioning is responsible for the majority of carbon dioxide emission and fossil fuel consumption during a building’s life cycle. The exploitation of renewable energy sources, together with efficiency enhancement, is the most promising solution. An innovative layout for ground-source heat pumps, featuring upstream thermal energy storage (uTES), was already proposed and proved to be as effective as conventional systems while requiring lower impact geothermal installations thanks to its ability to decouple ground and heat-pump energy fluxes. This work presents further improvements to the layout, obtained using more compact and efficient thermal energy storage containing phase-change materials (PCMs). The switch from sensible- to latent-heat storage has the twofold benefit of dramatically reducing the volume of storage (by a factor of approximately 10) and increasing the coefficient of performance of the heat pump. During the daily cycle, the PCMs are continuously melted/solidified, however, the average storage temperature remains approximately constant, allowing the heat pump to operate closer to its maximum efficiency. A life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed to study the environmental benefits of introducing PCM-uTES during the entire life cycle of the system in a comparative approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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15 pages, 1333 KiB  
Article
Consequential Life Cycle Assessment of Swine Manure Management within a Thermal Gasification Scenario
by Mahmoud Sharara, Daesoo Kim, Sammy Sadaka and Greg Thoma
Energies 2019, 12(21), 4081; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12214081 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2470
Abstract
Sustainable swine manure management is critical to reducing adverse environmental impacts on surrounding ecosystems, particularly in regions of intensive production. Conventional swine manure management practices contribute to agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aquatic eutrophication. There is a lack of full-scale research of [...] Read more.
Sustainable swine manure management is critical to reducing adverse environmental impacts on surrounding ecosystems, particularly in regions of intensive production. Conventional swine manure management practices contribute to agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aquatic eutrophication. There is a lack of full-scale research of the thermochemical conversion of solid-separated swine manure. This study utilizes a consequential life cycle assessment (CLCA) to investigate the environmental impacts of the thermal gasification of swine manure solids as a manure management strategy. CLCA is a modeling tool for a comprehensive estimation of the environmental impacts attributable to a production system. The present study evaluates merely the gasification scenario as it includes manure drying, syngas production, and biochar field application. The assessment revealed that liquid storage of manure had the highest contribution of 57.5% to GHG emissions for the entire proposed manure management scenario. Solid-liquid separation decreased GHG emissions from the manure liquid fraction. Swine manure solids separation, drying, and gasification resulted in a net energy expenditure of 12.3 MJ for each functional unit (treatment of 1 metric ton of manure slurry). Land application of manure slurry mixed with biochar residue could potentially be credited with 5.9 kg CO2-eq in avoided GHG emissions, and 135 MJ of avoided fossil fuel energy. Manure drying had the highest share of fossil fuel energy use. Increasing thermochemical conversion efficiency was shown to decrease overall energy use significantly. Improvements in drying technology efficiency, or the use of solar or waste-heat streams as energy sources, can significantly improve the potential environmental impacts of manure solids gasification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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19 pages, 3698 KiB  
Article
Environmental Profile of the Manufacturing Process of Perovskite Photovoltaics: Harmonization of Life Cycle Assessment Studies
by Simone Maranghi, Maria Laura Parisi, Riccardo Basosi and Adalgisa Sinicropi
Energies 2019, 12(19), 3746; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12193746 - 30 Sep 2019
Cited by 42 | Viewed by 5249
Abstract
The development of perovskite solar cell technology is steadily increasing. The extremely high photoconversion efficiency drives factor that makes these devices so attractive for photovoltaic energy production. However, the environmental impact of this technology could represent a crucial matter for industrial development, and [...] Read more.
The development of perovskite solar cell technology is steadily increasing. The extremely high photoconversion efficiency drives factor that makes these devices so attractive for photovoltaic energy production. However, the environmental impact of this technology could represent a crucial matter for industrial development, and the sustainability of perovskite solar cell is at the center of the scientific debate. The life cycle assessment studies available in the literature evaluate the environmental profile of this technology, but the outcomes vary consistently depending on the methodological choices and assumptions made by authors. In this work, we performed the harmonization of these life cycle assessment results to understand which are effectively the environmental hotspots of the perovskite solar cell fabrication. The outcomes of this analysis allowed us to outline an environmental ranking of the profiles of the several cell configurations investigated and, most importantly, to identify the material and energy flows that mostly contribute to the technology in terms of environmental impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

19 pages, 1905 KiB  
Review
Exergetic Life Cycle Assessment: A Review
by Martin N. Nwodo and Chimay J. Anumba
Energies 2020, 13(11), 2684; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13112684 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3310
Abstract
Exergy is important and relevant in many areas of study such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), sustainability, energy systems, and the built environment. With the growing interest in the study of LCA due to the awareness of global environmental impacts, studies have been [...] Read more.
Exergy is important and relevant in many areas of study such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), sustainability, energy systems, and the built environment. With the growing interest in the study of LCA due to the awareness of global environmental impacts, studies have been conducted on exergetic life cycle assessment for resource accounting. The aim of this paper is to review existing studies on exergetic life cycle assessment to investigate the state-of-the-art and identify the benefits and opportunity for improvement. The methodology used entailed an in-depth literature review, which involved an analysis of journal articles collected through a search of databases such as Web of Science Core Collection, Scopus, and Google Scholar. The selected articles were reviewed and analyzed, and the findings are presented in this paper. The following key conclusions were reached: (a) exergy-based methods provide an improved measure of sustainability, (b) there is an opportunity for a more comprehensive approach to exergetic life cycle assessment that includes life cycle emission, (c) a new terminology is required to describe the combination of exergy of life cycle resource use and exergy of life cycle emissions, and (d) improved exergetic life cycle assessment has the potential to solve characterization and valuation problems in the LCA methodology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Environmental and Energy Systems)
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