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Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Data Availability

ACMA and member companies are committed to understanding and reducing the environmental impact of polymer composite materials.  This is best accomplished through the formal process of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).  The foundation of an LCA is LCI, the inventory of environmental impacts across the life cycle of a part.  To facilitate the evaluation of life cycle environmental impacts for polymer composite parts, ACMA led an effort to capture industry-average data for unsaturated polyester resin (UPR), fiber glass reinforcement (e-glass), and five frequently used composite manufacturing processes:  

•    Compression Molding
•    Open Mold Casting
•    Open Mold Spray-up/Lay-up
•    Secondary Bonding
•    Vacuum Infusion

LCI data for UPR, e-glass and these five processes were compiled by Franklin Associates following the ISO 14040 Series standard process.  This information is now available in the US NREL LCI database, a national repository of peer-reviewed LCI data.

Reducing Impact During Formulation & Manufacture

To provide member companies with additional opportunities to reduce their environmental impact, the ACMA has developed an LCI Comparison Tool using the data generated for the US NREL dataset.  This graphical tool allows members to quickly asses how formulation and process changes affect the life cycle impact of polymer composite parts from cradle to gate.
 
Example output from the ACMA’s LCI Comparison Tool across eight standard metrics:

Example Graph

ACMA members may access the tool and webinar training here.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Examples

Our industry has utilized LCA to compare products made with polymer composites vs. other materials of construction.  The following links provide examples of Composite LCA studies:

Using data developed during ACMA’s LCI project, comparative LCAs will be easier and less expensive to develop in the future and provide end users with data that helps demonstrate the environmental performance of polymer composite materials vs. alternative construction options.