Bálint Simon, Krystyna Bachtin, Ali Kiliç, Ben Amor, Marcel Weil
First published: 4 June 2016Full publication history
Environmental assessments are crucial for the management of the environmental impacts of a product in a rapidly developing world. The design phase creates opportunities for acting on the environmental issues of products using life cycle assessment (LCA). However, the LCA is hampered by a lack of information originating from distinct scales along the product or technology value chain. Many studies have been undertaken to handle similar problems, but these studies are case-specific and do not analyze the development options in the initial design phase. Thus, systematic studies are needed to determine the possible scaling. Knowledge from such screening studies would open the door for developing new methods that can tackle a given scaling problem. The present article proposes a scale-up procedure that aims to generate a new life cycle inventory (LCI) on a theoretical industrial scale, based on information from laboratory experiments. Three techniques are described to obtain the new LCI. Investigation of a laboratory-scale procedure is discussed to find similar industrial processes as a benchmark for describing a theoretical large-scale production process. Furthermore, LCA was performed on a model system of nanofiber electrospinning for Li-ion battery cathode applications. The LCA results support material developers in identifying promising development pathways. For example, the present study pointed out the significant impacts of dimethylformamide on suspension preparation and the power requirements of distinct electrospinning subprocesses. Nanofiber-containing battery cells had greater environmental impacts than did the reference cell, although they had better electrochemical performance, such as better wettability of the electrode, improving the electrode’s electrosorption capacity, and longer expected lifetime. Furthermore, material and energy recovery throughout the production chain could decrease the environmental impacts by 40% to 70%, making the nanofiber a promising battery cathode. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2016;12:465–477. © 2016 SETAC.