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LCA on applicability of LFC-EAL combinations

The life cycle assessments (LCA) has been performed following the ISO 14040-series of guidelines in order to analyse the environmental impact of biodegradable lubricants in combination with low friction coatings in comparison to mineral oils and uncoated materials. Life cycle assessment is a technique for assessing the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, by the compilation of an inventory of relevant inputs and outputs (energy, raw materials, air and water emissions, solid waste) of a product system. The potential environmental impacts associated with those inputs and outputs are evaluated using the Ecoindicator 99 and the results of the inventory analysis and impact assessment phases are interpreted to the objectives of the study.

This analysis has been carried out in three stages:
- A comparison between the production of mineral oils, vegetable and synthetic lubricants.

- Study of the impact of coating processes.

- A complete life cycle analysis of the whole tribosystem applied to specified components.

The results are that the environmental impact of coating is negligible compared to the impact of the lubricant.

Sensitivity analysis was performed: Taking into account the assumptions of this study, the Lubricoat system will have the same environmental impact as the conventional system if the EAL lifetime is 63% of the mineral lubricant lifetime.

If EAL lifetime is >63% of mineral oil lifetime then the Lubricoat system has better environmental properties than the conventional system.

DLC manufacturing
The major impact is due to the electricity consumption during the coating process. (Creation and sustaining plasma!)

Lubricant manufacturing
In the Mineral lubricant manufacturing process the main environmental impact is the depletion of fossil fuel resources caused by the use of crude oil

The main environmental impacts of the EAL can be distributed between the transport of raw materials needed in the EAL manufacturing (26 % of the total impact), the TMP of the esterification process (30%) and the Refined rapeseed oil (31%)

General conclusion: if a subjective normalisation and weighting step is applied the production of EAL is more environmentally friendly than production of mineral oil based lubricants.

Reported by

Fundacion Tekniker
20 Avda Otaola 20
20600 Eibar
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