Inventory and life cycle assessment of an Italian automotive painting process
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In the current context of the European Environmental legislation and standards, the automotive sector is expected to continuously improve the vehicles life cycle with solutions able to minimise emissions of greenhouse gases and other negative effects on the environment and on human health. The vehicle painting process has been identified to be responsible of significant potential impacts, but recent primary inventory data and impact results are currently scarcely available in the literature. The novelty of this paper is the provision of a comprehensive life cycle inventory and life cycle assessment (LCA) of a painting process, with reference to a large and highly automated plant located in Turin (Italy). To achieve these goals, the highly recognised methodology of LCA has been followed, as indicated in ISO 14040-44. A detailed inventory is disclosed (both as input/output table and ILCD file) for the four main phases of the painting process (electrodeposition, primer application, top coat application and final drying and revision). Impact results on the categories of climate change, acidification, terrestrial eutrophication and photochemical ozone creation potential are quantified as well. These latter show that the major hot points are the high-energy consumption (specifically, the integrated provision of technological heating and chilled water is responsible of almost half of the total emissions of greenhouse gases), the direct emission of volatile organic compounds into air (for a total of 7.44 kg/car) and the waste production and treatment [giving a significant contribution to the impact categories of ozone depletion (99%), freshwater eutrophication (66%) and freshwater ecotoxicity potential (60%)]. This study contributes to increase the pool of publicly available life cycle data for specific applications in the automotive sector. In addition, the easy replicability and adaptation of the provided inventory is expected to boost enterprises to increase their overall sustainability. Finally, this study provides data and tools for the development of further research in alternative painting technologies.
KeywordsAutomotive painting process Italian automotive sector Life cycle assessment Painting environmental profile
Authors are pleased to thank the people working in the Turin automotive plant who collaborated to the project. In particular, authors thank them for their availability in sharing detailed inventory data on the painting process.
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