Most applications of LCA deal with environmental compliance, strategic development and environmental product declarations. While useful, these evaluations are reserved for technologies and products that have already reached a level of maturity and commercialization that does not allow much improvement on their environmental performance. Being retrospective and reactive, these assessments miss out on the opportunity of making any recommendation or improvement before the environmental impact of a technology is locked-in.For the purposes of guiding technology development from early design stages, the existing LCA framework needs to be adapted in order to cope with the hurdles proper of the evaluation of technologies that are still under development. Recent efforts include techniques to deal with scarce and uncertain data, scaling pilot/lab scale to full-fledged performances as well as background and landscape future changes.This study draws on knowledge available on scaling relations, uncertainty analysis and multi criteria decision analysis as resources for the application of LCA in the development of emerging technologies for distributed rural electrification. As a case study, three different direct carbon fuel cell (DCFC) designs were compared to a photovoltaic microgrid and evaluated for their environmental performance. So far only developed in laboratory scale, inventory data for DCFC was scaled up based on the desired power capacity and estimated future performance for the electrification of a hypothetical health clinic in rural Uganda. Results reveal that within the boundaries of this study and considering the ideal performance expected for future deployment, DCFC with a solid oxide conducting electrolyte can be a competitive alternative to a PV microgrid, when considering life cycle environmental performance. Conducting an early LCA helped identify DCFC designs with the most environmental promise and revealed environmental hotspots of DCFC for attention towards further development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2017 Joint Conference ISIE and ISSST
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
EventThe 9th biennial conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) and the 25th annual conference of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST - Chicago, United States
Duration: 25 Jun 201729 Jun 2017

Conference

ConferenceThe 9th biennial conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) and the 25th annual conference of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST
Abbreviated title2017 Joint Conference ISIE and ISSST
CountryUnited States
CityChicago
Period25/06/1729/06/17

ID: 36671425