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Metal Casting Technologies : Dec 2009
METAL Casting Technologies December 2009 25 he importance and role of life cycle analysis (LCA) and life cycle thinking takes on many forms within Australia's metals industry. LCA is the comprehensive examination of the environmental and economic impact of a metal product, process or technology. LCA also involves the collection of detailed information on environmental impacts to form the basis of an emission knowledge database for materials and processes commonly used in metal production. The CAST Cooperative Research Centre has developed a quantitative LCA tool that can be used by the metals industry to assess the environmental impacts of metal components, processes and technologies. This information can be used to determine if current industry practices are sustainable and to highlight and prioritise industry actions. Common problem areas for Australia's metals industry include: excessive waste generation; high levels of energy use; and/or production of emissions. Once identified, companies can then address these problems and generate economic, social and environmental benefits. The major benefits of CAST's detailed LCA studies are that they provide a reliable scientific basis for assessing the environmental impact of products and processes in the Australian metals industry. This allows companies to assess the "cradle to grave" environmental sustainability of different materials and process technologies and also to consider end product use and recycling. Barriers preventing industry from adopting LCA "Detailed LCA is time-consuming and requires resources that many of CAST's industry partners, particularly SMEs do not have," said Dr Koltun. "The global financial crisis has exacerbated this problem, particularly in the automotive sector." There is still limited interest from industry to commit the resources required to conduct detailed LCA although CAST anticipates this will change when the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is implemented. "The introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme will place a lot more emphasis on carbon accounting and life cycle analysis," said Dr Paul Koltun, research scientist with CSIRO's Sustainable Ecosystems, which is CAST's research partner in the project. A tool for LCA analysis in the Australian metals industry CAST's LCA tool incorporates a number of new features that will enhance the overall usefulness of the package, including calculations for carbon footprint and carbon accounting. Lifecycle analysis tool for the metals industry T Fig 1: Full life cycle for rare earth element additions in magnesium alloys ONCE IDENTIFIED, COMPANIES CAN THEN ADDRESS THESE PROBLEMS AND GENERATE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS.
Media Kit 2010