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Life cycle inventory analysis - A case study of steel used in Brazilian automobiles

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Data acquisition to perform LCA is time and capital consuming. There is already international data about environmental aspects in several processes. This study aims to verify the possibility of adapting international data to Brazilian conditions. Therefore, a Life Cycle Inventory was conducted to compare the use of national and international data for steel used in automobiles. This was done in three steps: objective and scope definition, inventory analysis and interpretation. LCI is a simplification of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as impact assessment is not taken into account. Even so, LCI takes into account all life cycle stages of a product, that is, from its extraction through its deposition. In this study, three phases of the life cycle were considered: steel manufacturing, automobile use and disposal. In the case studied, the amount of steel evaluated was 263 kg, which would be possible to be replaced by other materials in a 1,300 kg automobile. Resources and energy consumption, atmospheric emissions and solid residues production were taken into account within the analysis done. Results show that automobile use and materials manufacturing are responsible for the bulk of energy and resources consumption. Solid residues occur mainly in the discard phase, due to the low level of recycling. Several differences were also achieved between national and international data, which implies the need of environmental databases development.

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Correspondence to Cáassia M. L. Ugaya or Arnaldo C. S. Walter.

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Ugaya, C.M.L., Walter, A.C.S. Life cycle inventory analysis - A case study of steel used in Brazilian automobiles. Int J LCA 9, 365–370 (2004).

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  • Automobile
  • life cycle assessment
  • steel
  • recycling