Life Cycle Assessment of Aluminum Casting Processes 2001-01-3726
In recent years, the environmental impact of automotive products and processes has become an issue of increasing competitive importance. Life cycle analysis (LCA) provides a tool that allows companies to assess and compare the environmental impact of a variety of material and process choices. This enables companies to manufacture environmentally sound products of exceptional value by environmentally conscious processes. In this study, we used LCA to compare the environmental burdens associated with three aluminum casting processes: lost foam, semi-permanent mold, and precision sand. We obtained data from one primary and one secondary facility for each of the three processes studied. These data included all of the environmental burdens associated with raw material and energy consumption, gaseous emissions, and waste generation. In addition, we modeled the environmental burdens associated with the production and transport of the materials used during the manufacturing processes. Both capital and operating environmental costs were also considered. In general, the environmental burdens associated with the lost foam and semi-permanent mold processes were very similar while the burdens associated with the precision sand process were higher for each of the parameters studied. Overall, lost foam was determined to be the most environmentally friendly way to cast aluminum heads and blocks.