180
Automotive insights Equivalent data is key



CONDUCTING AN ACCURATE LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS

Equivalent data is key 

Getting the full picture of how much CO2 a car produces means going beyond the tailpipe perspective. That is why many in the automotive industry turn to the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). However, there are some very important things to keep in mind when using the LCA, especially when it comes to choosing materials.

LCA is a technique used to assess the environmental impact associated with all stages of a product's life, from raw material extraction through material processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, as well as disposal or recycling. If the most environmentally harmful stage can be determined, then focusing on making changes to that particular phase can efficiently reduce impact on the environment. For example, the most energy-intensive life phase of a car is during use due to fuel consumption. One of the most effective ways to increase fuel efficiency is to decrease vehicle weight.

Equivalent data is key – conducting an accurate Life Cycle Analysis


However, when comparing different life cycle analyses with one another, in order to identify the most sustainable way forward, it is crucial that equivalent data are available for both products and processes in question. In other words, do not try to compare apples with oranges. If one product has a much higher availability of data, it cannot be justly compared to another product which has less detailed data. The result of doing so would be drawing incorrect conclusions that would defeat the purpose of conducting an LCA in the first place. 

If you as an automotive engineer are interested in seeing the full life cycle of a vehicle, you can use an excellent tool called Automotive Energy & GHG Model (“UCSB Model”). The model, developed by the University of California at Santa Barbara, helps users to analyze the environmental impact of new vehicle designs using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Get it here.

For more info about LCA in general, visit this link.

How does steel measure up?

As an example of one way to reduce CO2, we look to steel. The image below shows that steel has an advantage compared to some other lightweight materials as it emits less CO2 when being produced. However, there is also a difference between steels. SSAB has one of the cleanest steel manufacturing processes in the world and by using advanced or ultra high strength steel, you can further reduce emissions, as you will be using less steel.

The image below shows that steel has an advantage compared to some other lightweight materials as it emits less CO2 when being produced. However, there is also a difference between steels. SSAB has one of the cleanest steel manufacturing processes in the world and by using advanced or ultra high strength steel, you can further reduce emissions, as you will be using less steel


Subscribe to our free, monthly Automotive Insights newsletter and receive relevant, in-depth articles about the issues affecting your business.

By submitting this form you accept our privacy statement.