Environmental impact assessment of galvanized sheet production: a case study in Shandong Province, China

Abstract

Purpose

Galvanized sheet is the most widely used coated steel plate globally in the industry of construction, automobile, electronics manufacturing, etc. Large amounts of resources and energy are used in galvanized sheet production, which likewise generates vast amounts of pollutant emissions. In the face of the rapid growth of the production and demand of galvanized sheet in China, it is very important to find out the key factors of the environment impact in the production of galvanized sheet. An evaluation of the environmental impact of galvanized sheet production in China was conducted by using the framework of life cycle assessment to improve resource saving and environmental protection in the galvanized sheet industry, and update the life cycle inventory database of galvanized sheet production.

Methods

The environmental impact assessment was carried out based on the life cycle assessment framework by the use of ReCiPe 2016 method which was applicable on a global scale to evaluate the environmental impact of galvanized sheet production. Methods of uncertainty analysis and sensitivity analysis were adopted to provide credible support.

Results and discussion

The midpoint categories of global warming and fossil resource scarcity, as well as the endpoint categories of human health contributed most to environmental burden, which were mainly caused by carbon dioxide emissions and coal consumption. Environmental impact was dominated by the key process of continuous casting billet production, followed by electrolytic zinc production and electricity generation.

Conclusions

Additional CO2-reducing measures should be implemented in galvanized sheet production to slow the effect of global warming. Moreover, biomass char reducing agents, rather than coal-based reducing agents, should be utilized in steelmaking to reduce fossil resource consumption. Furthermore, renewable energy, rather than coal-based electricity, should be used in galvanized sheet production to reduce carbon emissions and fossil resource consumption. Increasing the recycling rate of scrap steel and zinc waste can save resources and reduce environmental burden. The results of this study can provide guidance in the reduction of resource consumption and environmental burden of galvanized sheet production to the maximum extent.

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Funding

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Major Basic Research Projects of the Shandong Natural Science Foundation, China (ZR2018ZC2362), National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFF0206702; 2017YFF0211605), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71671105; 71974113), and The Fundamental Research Funds of Shandong University, China (2018JC049).

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Correspondence to Jinglan Hong.

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Ji, C., Ma, X., Zhai, Y. et al. Environmental impact assessment of galvanized sheet production: a case study in Shandong Province, China. Int J Life Cycle Assess 25, 760–770 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-020-01735-7

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Keywords

  • Life cycle assessment
  • Galvanized sheet
  • Steel
  • Zinc
  • Energy
  • Environmental impact