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An Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment with SimaPro Colin McMillan


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Title: An Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment with SimaPro Colin McMillan

An Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment with
SimaPro Colin McMillan
An Introduction to SimaPro
  • Why Use It?
  • Program Structure
  • Goal and Scope Definition
  • Inventory Analysis
  • Impact Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Building a LCA in SimaPro
  • Navigating SimaPro
  • Where to find data
  • Entering data

Why SimaPro?
  • Market-leading LCA software developed by PRé
    Consultants (Netherlands).
  • Provides access to a large amount of licensed
    (i.e. not publicly available) LCI data.
  • Speeds the calculation of LCI and LCIA (matrix
    inversion calculation routine).
  • SimaPro allows users to organize material and
    energy flows into a database of product and
    process building blocks.
  • LCAs of materials and processes are then
    constructed with these building blocks.

SimaPro Organization
  • Organized based on LCA stages
  • Goal and scope definition
  • Inventory
  • Impact assessment
  • Interpretation

Goal and Scope Definition
  • Description
  • Multiple fields for discussion of project goal,
    functional unit, and other details.
  • Data Quality Indicators (DQIs)
  • Used to record data time period, geography,
    representativeness, allocation, system
  • Allows users to evaluate the appropriateness of
    data and to define DQI requirements and
  • Your ideal LCI data are the most current possible
    and are obtained from the same geographic area as
    your study.
  • Complete documentation of data sources, data
    quality, and any associated assumptions are of

Life Cycle Inventory LCA Building Blocks
  • Processes
  • Describe materials, transportation, production
    processing, and disposal processing in terms of
    input output flows of substances
  • Environmental Flows- most commonly used. Include
    emissions to air, water, and soil, solid wastes,
    non-material emissions (i.e. radiation, noise),
    use of natural resources.
  • Economic Flows- include inputs from other
    processes, economic outputs (e.g. products),
    waste outputs for treatment, avoided processes,
    economic inputs.
  • Social Flows- user specified.
  • Product Stages
  • Assemblies, life cycle, disposal scenarios,
    reuse, disassembly used to describe the overall
    product and its life cycle.

Life Cycle Inventory LCA Building Blocks
  • Substances Inputs from Nature (Resources)
  • These are the most basic blocks in SimaPro and
    express the use of natural resources.
  • They are materials as they exist in nature and
    have neither emissions nor energy consumption
    associated with them. Example limestone in
  • Inputs from Technosphere Materials/Fuels
  • These are inputs from other processes.
  • The building blocks that define human products
    and processes and contain defined inputs and
    outputs. Example limestone mining, heat from an
    industrial furnace.
  • Distinction between inputs Materials/Fuels
    have mass units. Electricity/Heat have units
    other than mass.

Process Types Systems and Unit Processes
  • A system type process includes only inputs from
    nature (the furthest point upstream) and
    emissions. A black box is created, reducing
  • A unit process type process identifies all of the
    sub processes used, each of which have inputs
    from nature and emissions. Individual sub
    processes can be modified with updated data or
    data from a new geographic area (i.e. in order to
    make European process data for mfg HDPE more
    suitable for use in a U.S. LCA, substitute U.S.
    electricity production for the given electricity

Process Types Systems and Unit Processes
Product Stages Assembling the Building Blocks
  • Product Stages
  • Do not directly contain environmental, social,
    or economic flows instead are used to assemble
    materials and processes to describe various life
    cycle stages.
  • Assemblies
  • The product specification of component materials,
    transportation, and mfg processes.
  • An assembly is a cradle-to-gate representation
    of a product.
  • End-of-Life Scenarios
  • Enables user to describe separate processes for
    disposal, disassembly, and reuse.
  • Life Cycle
  • Links the product specifications (assemblies)
    with defined use phase and end-of-life scenario.
  • Can be linked to other life cycles, enabling the
    user to model a products use of other products.

Example Product Assembly
Example Product Life Cycle
Relationships Among Building Blocks
Life Cycle
Inputs from Technosphere
Inputs from Technosphere
Inputs from Nature
Calculating, Analyzing, and Interpreting Results
  • Network
  • Tree
  • Analyze
  • Compare
  • Uncertainty Analysis

Clicking any of these will calculate results
Analyzing Interpreting Results Networks and
  • Both networks and trees show the relationships
    within and between processes and assemblies.
  • Unlike a tree, a network shows looped
    relationships between processes
  • Contribution Analysis- both can track
    contributions of substances, emissions, and
    impact assessment results.

Analyzing Interpreting Results Analyze
  • Choosing either will calculate LCI and LCIA
    results. Compare is used to create a
    side-by-side comparison of multiple processes or

Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Results
  • A life cycle inventory (LCI) is the environmental
    balance sheet for a process or material.
  • It records material and energy flows entering and
    leaving the process or material.
  • Later used to calculate the life cycle impact

LCI Results
Inventory contribution by life cycle stage
Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA)
  • LCI results are aggregated and adjusted to
    describe their relevance in a more meaningful
    way. Multiple steps of calculation are involved-
    depend on Midpoint or Endpoint approach.
  • Classification
  • Defines the impact categories and their
  • Characterization
  • Reflects the relative contribution of a LCI flow
    (a substance) to the impact category result.
  • Normalization
  • Defines the extent to which an impact category
    contributes to the total environmental burden.
  • Weighting
  • Process by which indicators are aggregated into a
    single score. Uses subjective weighting factors.

Getting to Know Your Impact Assessment Methods (v
  • Endpoint Methods include emission, fate,
    exposure, effect, and damage. Provides more
    intuitive measures, but at the expense of
  • Eco-Indicator 99
  • Impact 2002
  • Ecopoints 97
  • Midpoint Methods include emission, fate, and
    exposure. Less uncertainty than endpoints.
  • TRACI 2002 U.S. EPA. Characterization only- no
    normalization or weighting.
  • CML 2 baseline 2000

LCIA Example Climate Change in EcoIndicator 99
LCIA Results
  • Based on the type of impact assessment
    methodology chosen, it may be possible to see
    results from each stage of the LCIA
    (characterization, damage assessment,
    normalization, weighting, and single score.

Connection Between Inventory and Impact Assessment
  • LCI emissions must be matched to the substances
    contained in impact assessment categories. If
    not, the emissions will not be captured by the
    impact assessment method.
  • The Checks Tab
  • Lists substances that are not being captured by
    the selected impact assessment method.

Analyzing Interpreting Results Uncertainty
  • Latest version of SimaPro (v7.0)incorporates
    Monte Carlo analysis for calculating uncertainty
    in process inputs and outputs, as well as product
    stages, in LCI and LCIA.
  • HOWEVER, information on the types of
    distributions and other uncertainty parameters
    are only included with the EcoInvent database.

Uncertainty Analysis Example
Only 0.0399 of the values contain uncertainty
An Introduction to SimaPro
  • Why Use It?
  • Program Structure
  • Goal and Scope Definition
  • Inventory Analysis
  • Impact Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Building a LCA in SimaPro
  • Where to find data
  • Entering data

Getting to Know Your Underlying Databases (v 7.0)
  • EcoInvent v1.2 (2005)
  • Swiss energy production, transport, and
  • Industry Data (2001)
  • Data collected by industry associations, such as
    the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in
    Europe (APME).
  • Idemat (2001)
  • Production of various materials, compiled by
    Delft University (Netherlands)
  • Buwal 250 (1997)
  • Packaging materials for the Swiss Packaging
  • ETH-ESU (1996)
  • Swiss and Eastern European production of energy,
    resource extraction, raw material production,
    production of semi-manufactures, auxiliary and
    working materials, supply of transport and waste
    treatment services, and infrastructure
  • Franklin (1996)
  • North American materials, energy, and transport.

Sources of Publicly Available LCI/LCA Data
  • U.S. LCI Database http//
  • Managed by the National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Sources include Franklin Associates, Athena
    Institute, …
  • Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe
    (APME) http//
  • LCI data contained in eco-profiles, developed
    by Boustead.
  • Peer-Reviewed Journals
  • Journal of Industrial Ecology, International
    Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, Journal of
    Cleaner Production, Environmental Science
    Technology, and others…

US. LCI Database
The go-to source for publicly available LCI
data for North American materials, energy, and
processes. Free, but registration required.
U.S. LCI Database Data
  • Data arranged in spreadsheets. Were concerned
    with the streamlined and detailed
  • Streamlined Spreadsheets
  • Contain information on scope boundary, data
    quality indicators, and data sources.
  • LCI data should look familiar arranged by inputs
    from nature, inputs from technosphere, outputs to
    nature (air, water, soil emissions).
  • Detailed Spreadsheets
  • Contain supporting calculations and references

U.S. LCI Database Data Al Precision Sand Casting
Streamlined Spreadsheet
Inputs of Man-Made Materials, Industrial
Processes, and Energy
Inputs of Natural Resources
Entering Data into SimaPro North American
Natural Gas Extraction
  • Data from U.S. LCI Database
  • Data Description
  • Process type unit process
  • Geographical Representation N. America
  • Year 2003
  • Technical Representation Offshore and onshore
    extraction, includes gas co-extracted with crude
  • Data Sources Government and industry sources.
  • Functional Unit extraction of 1,000 cu ft of
    natural gas

Entering Data Documentation
Entering Data
Wheres the Energy? Energy Accounting in SimaPro
  • Energy Accounting Definitions
  • Energy accounting is a fundamental concept in
  • Feedstock Energy- the amount of energy contained
    in a material that is not used as an energy
    source. The heat of combustion of a material,
    expressed in terms of HHV or LHV.
  • Process (Fuel) Energy- the amount of energy
    contained in fuel that is combusted for work or
  • Total Primary Energy- the total amount of fuel
    and feedstock energy consumed by a product or
    process over its entire life cycle.
  • Energy can be tracked in two ways in SimaPro
  • Input from nature specified with heat of
    combustion (Oil, crude, feedstock, 41 MJ/kg, in
    ground). This approach necessitates creating a
    new input for each new heat of combustion value.
  • Create energy reminders as Non Material

Advanced Topics
  • Describing waste disposal and EOL processes
    Waste Scenarios, Disposal Scenarios, Disassembly,
  • Creating Parameters

Waste Scenarios, Disposal Scenarios, Disassembly,
and Reuse
  • Used to build descriptions and to define impacts
    of EOL processes
  • Commonly an under utilized feature of SimaPro
  • Waste Scenarios are SimaPro processes and are
    used to describe where waste flows go. They
    require additional waste treatment processes to
  • Example a waste scenario for municipal waste
    describes the s of certain materials collected
    from waste stream. An incineration process
    describes the emissions resulting from
  • Disposal Scenarios, Disassembly, and Reuse are
    SimaPro product stages and are used to describe
    the EOL processes for the product youre
    modeling, as well as any of the products
    assemblies and subassemblies.
  • Example a disposal scenario describes the
    transportation energy required to collect a
    discarded coffee maker and includes the s of the
    overall coffee maker that are disposed,
    disassembled and recovered, and reused.

Waste Scenarios Identifying Waste Flows and
Where They Go
  • A material or process must have a defined waste
    type in order to be included in a waste scenario.
    This is the waste flow.
  • The waste scenario is then used to describe where
    the waste flow goes. Example household waste

36 of paper waste flow is separated and recycled
All remaining is treated as municipal waste
Waste Scenarios Describing the Treatment of
Waste Flows
  • After initial separation, household waste is
    linked to the municipal waste scenario. Here,
    additional separation occurs before waste is
    incinerated and landfilled

Additional separation recovery
  • The Incineration waste treatment process
    contains the emissions that result from
    incinerating municipal waste

Waste treatment scenarios
Disposal Scenarios, Disassembly, and Reuse
  • Disposal Scenarios describe the types of EOL
    processes that specific products undergo.
  • The disposal scenario for a coffee maker includes
    the of the product that is sent to municipal
    waste, disassembled, and reused.
  • Separate disassembly and reuse stages are used to
    describe specifics.

Relationships Among Disposal EOL Processes
Advanced Concepts Parameters
  • Parameters (new in SimaPro v. 7) allow user to
    model relationships within inventory data through
    mathematical expressions.
  • Used for sensitivity analysis, including
    boundary, transportation, and, allocation
  • Create nonlinear models.
  • Define and evaluate uncertainty in LCI data.
  • Used to develop Product Scenarios.
  • Example create multiple design options for a
    product by defining parameters for dimensions and
  • No longer a need to create multiple assemblies or
    life cycles for evaluating different product
    process designs.

Advanced Concepts Parameters Example Application
  • Assume we are using SimaPro to evaluate different
    designs for wood shed.
  • Create parameter definitions for the shed
  • Develop expressions based on parameters.
  • Quantities of material assembly inputs are now
    controlled by parameter expressions. Now,
    different shed designs can be analyzed by
    adjusting parameters, instead of creating a
    completely new product in SimaPro.

Your Homework
Develop and model a comparative LCA of high
pressure mercury lamps and metal halide lamps in
SimaPro. You will be given a bill of materials
and operating characteristics for each lamp type.