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Issue 3, 2009
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Use of life cycle assessment to characterize the environmental impacts of polyol production options

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Abstract

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a valuable tool that can be used to quantify potential environmental costs and benefits early in process research and development, allowing a company to focus development resources on products with both economic and environmental benefits. Cradle-to-gate life cycle assessments show clear environmental benefits for flexible foam polyols made primarily from soy or castor oil compared to petrochemicals. Compared to petrochemical based polyols, the seed oil based polyols would use 33% to 64% of the fossil resources and could generate very low (−13% (i.e., sequestration) to 46%) greenhouse gas emissions. The magnitude of impacts for polyols from castor oil is dominated by two key assumptions: castor farming inputs and emissions, and castor oil co-product value. The choice of farming model also has a significant impact on the gas emissions and water use for polyols from soy oil.

Graphical abstract: Use of life cycle assessment to characterize the environmental impacts of polyol production options

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Article information


Submitted
10 Sep 2008
Accepted
16 Dec 2008
First published
21 Jan 2009

Green Chem., 2009,11, 380-389
Article type
Paper

Use of life cycle assessment to characterize the environmental impacts of polyol production options

R. K. Helling and D. A. Russell, Green Chem., 2009, 11, 380
DOI: 10.1039/B815833A

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