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Technical Paper

Optimizing Vehicle Life Using Life Cycle Energy Analysis and Dynamic Replacement Modeling

A novel application in the field of Life Cycle Assessment is presented that investigates optimal vehicle retirement timing and design life. This study integrates Life Cycle Energy Analysis (LCEA) with Dynamic Replacement Modeling and quantifies the energy tradeoffs between operating an older vehicle versus replacing it with a new more energy efficient model. The decision to keep or replace a vehicle to minimizes life cycle energy consumption is influenced by several factors including vehicle production energy, current vehicle's fuel economy and its deterioration with age, the improvement in fuel economy technology of new model vehicles and annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Model simulations explore vehicle replacement under incremental improvements in vehicle technology and leapfrog technology improvements such as with the PNGV (Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles).
Technical Paper

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Plastic and Steel Vehicle Fuel Tanks

Federal standards that mandate improved fuel economy have resulted in the increased use of lightweight materials in automotive applications. However, the environmental burdens associated with a product extend well beyond the use phase. Life cycle assessment is the science of determining the environmental burdens associated with the entire life cycle of a given product from cradle-to-grave. This report documents the environmental burdens associated with every phase of the life cycle of two fuel tanks utilized in full-sized 1996 GM vans. These vans are manufactured in two configurations, one which utilizes a steel fuel tank, and the other a multi-layered plastic fuel tank consisting primarily of high density polyethylene (HDPE). This study was a collaborative effort between GM and the University of Michigan's National Pollution Prevention Center, which received funding from EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory.
Technical Paper

Life Cycle Assessment and Design of Instrument Panels: A Common Sense Approach

The U.S. EPA initiated the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) to develop “Cleaner, Cheaper, Smarter” environmental policy and management practices. This paper addresses the application of life cycle design and assessment tools to automotive instrument panels (IP) as part of the Automotive Manufacturing Sector CSI pilot project investigation. For this study, an “average IP” was modeled based on the instrument panels of three mid-sized U.S. car models: 1995 Chevrolet Lumina, 1996 Dodge Intrepid and 1996 Ford Taurus. This “average IP” consisted of seventeen different materials and weighed over 22 kg (49 lbs.). A life cycle inventory analysis was conducted to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with materials production, manufacturing, use, and retirement. A thorough evaluation of solid waste production and energy consumption was completed and partial inventories of air emission and water effluent releases were also conducted.