Browse Publications Technical Papers 2010-36-0229
2010-10-06

The compromise between alternative materials usage and the reduction in weight and fuel consumption in passenger vehicles, a life cycle approach 2010-36-0229

All over the world, the combat actions to reduce the vehicles' environmental impacts are focused on reducing emissions during the vehicle use; guiding many companies to work on lighter technologies development without considering its whole life cycle's impacts. It was demonstrated that the knowledge of the whole life cycle of the product under study is fundamental to fully evaluate its benefits and burdens. In this context, life cycle assessment (LCA) is an important tool for the systems improvement; his entire life cycle approach allows the identification and assessment of critical aspects and may be useful for helping decision makers to develop his products so as to cause the least environmental impact. During this study, applying the LCA methodology, it became evident that the use of lighter materials is environmentally advantageous to certain impacts, such as reducing the greenhouse gases emission, but may be disadvantageous to others, while the use of composite materials with fibers from renewable sources presents smaller gains in all impacts assessed. A key finding is that each phase of the vehicle's life cycle can represent a significant percentage of its total impact, and a LCA study must be conducted to point which phase is the main responsible for the total impact assessed, and finally, to show that the application of an alternative technology may really produce good results over the vehicle's whole life.

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