1993-03-01

Use of Expert Systems for Life Cycle Analysis 930558

As environmental regulations become more stringent, manufacturers are confronted with the task of product-design considering environmental impacts. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a developing technique that attacks this problem. LCAs provide environmental information for decision making by consumers, manufacturers, and governments. These decisions significantly affect the ability to maximize source reduction, re-use, recyclability, and recycled content. LCAs can aid in diminishing the negative impact a product has on the environment and can be utilized as a partial solution of our nations' (worlds') growing waste management problem. To date, the application of LCAs has varied from product comparison to process development and improvement. The results from these analyses have differed because of differing assumptions and differing choices of boundary conditions. An appropriate Life Cycle Analysis should be consistent across products, locations, and especially across experimenters. The development of LCAs lends itself to computer-assisted design methods such as the techniques of Expert Systems, due to the large amount of information associated with successfully developing an LCA. In this paper, we will discuss using Hierarchical Classification, a specific “task specific architecture” expert systems approach, to organize the terms necessary in performing an LCA. Although not yet definitive, we believe our experience indicates that such approaches to organizing the vast knowledge necessary to accomplish an LCA may be a key factor in eventual successful development of comprehensive LCAs in industry.

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