Dr John Summerscales from Universtiy of Plymouth will give a lecture on 'Quantitative Life Cycle Assessment (QLCA) of reinforcements for composites'.
Natural fibres are potentially sustainable reinforcements for polymer matrix composites. However, it is essential that Quantitative Life Cycle Assessment (QLCA) is undertaken to demonstrate that the environmental burdens are indeed lower than those of man-made fibres and hence to confirm or refute the claim that “green” fibres are the more sustainable option. The presentation will discuss flax fibres which are perhaps the most agro-chemical intensive bast fibres, with the goal-and-scope limited to the production process of converting flax fibres from plant stem to a form suitable for the reinforcement for composites. Life Cycle Inventory Analysis (LCI) for energy use and the environmental burdens listed in ISO/TR 14047:2003 uses the eight Environmental Impact Classification Factors (EICF) developed by Azapagic with data compiled from a number of published sources.
A key issue in QLCA is the apportionment of burdens between the principal product, any by-/co-products and the waste streams. The presentation will review the differences between LCA undertaken by different research groups. It would be appropriate to develop a consistent apportionment methodology to permit direct comparison of differing situations. This might inform decisions on reducing environmental impacts and allow responsible marketing of natural fibre composites to “green” consumers.