<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >


SimaPro was developed by PRé Consultants in the Netherlands. It is a process-based tool for analyzing products and systems for their energy usage and environmental impacts over their life cycle. It contains a number of databases for simulating processes, performing inventories, assembling products and systems, analyzing results, and assessing life cycle impacts, and features modules for performing uncertainty and sensitivity analyses.

Tool for the reduction and assessment of chemical and other environmental impacts (traci)

TRACI is a tool for performing life cycle impact analyses developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It uses inventory data as input information to perform a “mid-point” impact analysis using categories such as those shown in Table Common Impact Categories and Their References . A mid-point analysis assesses impact based upon results at a common point in the risk chain, for example, global warming potential, because subsequent end-point impact assessments require several assumptions and value choices that often differ from case to case. The values for the various impact categories given in Table Common Impact Categories and Their References are mid-point references.

Economic input output life cycle assessment (eio-lca)

EIO-LCA ( (External Link) ) takes a different approach to the development of a life cycle assessment. In comparison with the somewhat complicated “bottom-up” approach described above, EIO-LCA uses a more aggregated, matrix-based approach in which the economy is composed of several hundred “sectors,” each linked to the other through a series of factors. EIO was first developed in the 1950s by Wassily Leontief (1905-1999) who was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics for his work. EIO has proven to be a very useful tool for national and regional economic planning. The developers of EIO-LCA then linked the main economic model to a series of environmental impacts. EIO-LCA uses economic measures to perturb the system; for example, if a factory seeks to increase its output by ten percent, then the aggregated inputs across the economy will have to increase by ten percent. Of course some of the inputs from some sectors will increase very little if at all, while others will bear the major brunt of the increase in output by increasing input. In EIO-LCA, part of the new outputs will be increased contaminant loads to the environment.

EIO-LCA has several advantages in comparison with the “bottom-up” approach. There is no need to be concerned with defining system boundaries, i.e. the “boundary” is the entire economy of the United States (or a sub-region), which includes all material and energy inputs and outputs. The data used in EIO-LCA are, for the most part, already collected by the federal government thereby obviating the tedium of the inventory stage. Finally, software models are readily available to carry out the analysis. While a “bottom-up” LCA may take months or even years to complete, EIO-LCA typically takes a few hours.

Of course, at this level of aggregation much information is lost, especially on how the system actually functions. For example, the “energy” sector of the economy includes electricity generated, but doesn’t distinguish among nuclear, fossil, or renewable sources. And if one is concerned with the functional reasons for a particular result, EIO-LCA will be of limited use. Often the “bottom-up” and EIO-LCA approaches are combined (a “hybrid” approach).


The life cycle approach is a useful way to come to an understanding of the material and energy needed to make a product or deliver a service, see where wastes are generated, and estimate the subsequent impacts that these wastes may have on the environment. It is a good way to improve a product chain, articulate tradeoffs, and make comparisons among alternative processes and products. In these contexts LCA facilitates decision making by managers, designers, and other stakeholders. Most importantly, LCA is a way of framing policy options in a comprehensive and systematic way.

Review questions

Using the information in Table Waste-to-Product Ratios for Selected Industries , fill in numerical values, per unit of product, for the diagram in Figure Human-Designed Industry . One diagram for each industrial sector.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

What are some of the reasons to use Life Cycle Assessments?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

What are the basic stages of a product or service chain that serve as the basis for a life cycle assessment?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

What are the steps involved in performing a life cycle assessment?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Name several characteristic scopes of life cycle assessments.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

What is “embodied energy”?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Name several impact assessment categories and the reference units typically used to express them.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Name several life cycle impact analysis tools and their major characteristics.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

What are some of the limitations of life cycle assessments?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Locate and read a completed Life Cycle Assessment online. Consider whether widespread adoption by society would result in measureable lowering of environmental impacts? If so what kind? What might the obstacles be? Are there any tradeoffs associated with adoption, i.e. some impacts may be reduced, but others might get worse?)

Got questions? Get instant answers now!


Bohlmann, G. M. (2004). Biodegradable packaging life cycle assessment. Environmental Progress, 23(4), 49-78. doi: 10.1002/ep.10053

Frosch, R.&Gallopoulos, N. (1989). Strategies for Manufacturing. Scientific American , 261(3), 144-152.

Landis, A. E. (2007). Environmental and Economic Impacts of Biobased Production . Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Patel, M., Crank, M., Dornburg, V., Hermann, B., Roes, L., Huesling, B., et al. (2006, September). Medium and long term opportunities and risks of the biotechnological production of bulk chemicals from renewable resources – The potential of white biotechnology: The BREW Project . Utrecht University, Netherlands: European Commission’s GROWTH Programme (DG Research).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2006). Life cycle assessment: Principles and practice . (EPA Publication No. EPA/600/R-06/060). Systems Analysis Branch, National Risk Management Research Laboratory. Cincinnati, Ohio. (External Link) .

Vink, E. T. H., Rábagno, K.R., Glassner, D.A.,&Gruber, P.R. (2003). Applications of life cycle assessment to NatureWorks polylactide (PLA) production. Polymer Degradation and Stability 80(3), 403-419. doi: 10.1016/S0141-3910(02)00372-5

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply
Practice Key Terms 8

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation' conversation and receive update notifications?