Rob, the Ricardo report at this link appears to be an assessment of the viability of vehicle CO2 lifecycle analyses, rather than an actual analysis. It claims that tailpipe analysis is not enough, and that "CO2 emissions resulting from the generation of the fuel, or those embedded within the vehicle production" should also be included. It then gives an exhaustive analysis of all the possible factors that can impact CO2 production, including fuel generation, design-for-disassembly, components sourcing, recycling and other EOL issues, and lots more. There is a notation toward the end that hybrids and EVs significantly decrease CO2 in use (=tailpipe analysis), but tend to increase emissions during production, compared to cars that run on petro-based fuel. However, there's no discussion in this report of how composites stack up against steel in an LCA. I'd be interested to see the steel industry's claims verified by a truly third-party independent analysis: they may well be right.
Thanks, Rob. Scanning this report makes me consider the complexities of LCA (lifecycle analysis), meaning, there are so many factors to consider for a single product that such analysis must get quite complicated. No wonder the practice, and even the concept, is still just getting off the ground, and only in some industries.
Sure, Ann. Last fall I did a story on the steel industry's effort to tout steel's relatively clean carbon footprint. The arguement is that steel is greener than many of the alternatives if you look at the entire lifecycle of the materials.
Yes, I've seen the steel association pushing the value of strong lightweight steel. Their big push is that when you combine lightweight steel with the easy recycling of steel, you get a product that beats composites for birth-to-grave green. It's an interesting argument.
Your reference to steel is apt. That's one industry that can't easily adopt sustainable developments and simply add those developments to its existing supply chain. That also explains why steel is fighting so hard lately to prove its value.
Yes, I think those two situations are parallel. This also explains why so much that has been developed so far are in the form of, more or less, engineering design and manufacturing drop-in replacements. Even the mushroom based packaging is designed to compete directly with Styrofoam, and, as we saw, the makers of Styrofoam are interested in it, too. This is a different situation from steel makers being challenged by composites. since the entire manufacturing and supply chain is quite different.
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