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Scoping is arguably the most important step for conducting an LCA. It is here that the rationale for carrying out the assessment is made explicit, where the boundaries of the system are defined, where the data quantity, quality, and sources are specified, and where any assumptions that underlie the LCA are stated. This is critically important both for the quality of the resultant analysis, and for comparison among LCAs for competing or alternative products.

Inventory analysis

The inventory analysis step involves the collection of information on the use of energy and various materials used to make a product or service at each part of the manufacturing process. If it is true that scoping is the most important step in an LCA then the inventory is probably the most tedious since it involves locating, acquiring, and evaluating the quality of data and specifying the sources of uncertainties that may have arisen. For products that have been produced for a long time and for which manufacturing processes are well known, such as making steel, concrete, paper, most plastics, and many machines, data are readily available. But for newer products that are either under development or under patent protection, data are often considered proprietary and are generally not shared in open sources. Uncertainty can arise because of missing or poorly documented data, errors in measurement, or natural variations caused by external factors (e.g., weather patterns can cause considerable variation in the outputs of agricultural systems or the ways that consumers use products and services can cause variability in the emission of pollutants and the disposition of the product at end of life). Often the manufacturing chain of a process involves many steps resulting in a detailed inventory analysis. Figure Detailed System Flow Diagram for Bar Soap , for example, shows the manufacturing flow for a bar of soap (this diagram is for making bar soap using saponification—the hydrolysis of triglycerides using animal fats and lye). The inventory requires material and energy inputs and outputs for each of these steps, although it may turn out that some steps contribute little to the ultimate impact analysis. For example, the inventory associated with capital equipment for a manufacturing process, i.e. machines that are replaced at lengthy intervals such that their impacts in the short term are minimal, are often omitted from the analysis.

There are two additional aspects of LCA that should also be addressed during inventory analysis: the functional unit    of comparison, and the allocation    of inventory quantities among co-products or services. The functional unit is the basis for comparing two or more products, processes, or services that assure equality of the function delivered. This may seem like a straightforward task. For example, for the soap produced by the process of Figure Detailed System Flow Diagram for Bar Soap , one might choose “one bar of soap” as a functional unit of comparison. But then how would a LCA comparison be made with, say, liquid hand soap or a body wash product (which combines the functionality of soap and shampoo)? Perhaps “number of washings” would be a better choice, or maybe concentration of surfactant made available per average use (in the latter case an “average dose” would need to be defined). Furthermore, soaps have other additives and attributes such as scents, lotions, colors, and even the functionality of the shape – factors that may not affect cleaning effectiveness but certainly do have an impact on consumer preferences, and hence quantity sold. Since it is quite likely that essentially all soaps purchased by consumers will eventually be washed down the drain, such marketability factors may indeed have an environmental impact.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
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
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
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.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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