Life Cycle Economic and Environmental Implications of Pristine High Density Polyethylene and Alternative Materials in Drainage Pipe Applications

Life Cycle Economic and Environmental Implications of Pristine High Density Polyethylene and... A life cycle assessment (LCA) and cost analysis were conducted to compare the environmental and economic performance of nanocomposite polymers that use pristine and recycled high density polyethylene (HDPE) polymer with pristine, and pristine/recycled HDPE polymeric materials in drainage pipe. We evaluate three performance metrics; (a) non-renewable energy consumption (NRE); (b) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and (c) production costs of the three pipe material alternatives. Original life cycle inventory data for the production of nanoclay from the mineral Montmorillonite were collected for this case study in the United States. Life cycle inventory models were developed for the cradle-to-gate production of drainage pipe used in highway construction that consider the sensitivity of model parameter inputs on the life cycle impact and cost results for the three material options. The GHG emissions for the nanoclay composite pipe are 54 % lower than those for pristine HDPE pipe, and 16 % lower than those for pristine/recycle HDPE pipe. With a slight difference in GHG emissions between the pristine/recycled and nanoclay composite, the production of nanoclay does not introduce a significant environmental burden to the pipe material. On average, the pristine HDPE pipe is 13 and 17 % higher in cost than the pristine/recycled HDPE and nanoclay composite pipes, respectively. Results of the LCA and cost analysis support using recycled HDPE as a substitute for pristine HDPE due to its low energy requirements and production costs. The uncertainty in GHG emissions of manufacturing pristine HDPE causes the largest variation of GHG emissions in nanoclay composite pipe (+3/−2 %). The production cost of the nanocomposite pipe is most influenced by the energy cost of PCR-HDPE (+25/−11 %). Our study suggests that a nanocomposite design that replaces part of the pristine HDPE with recycled HDPE and nanoclay reduces certain environmental risks and material cost of corrugated pipe. Journal of Polymers and the Environment Springer Journals

Life Cycle Economic and Environmental Implications of Pristine High Density Polyethylene and Alternative Materials in Drainage Pipe Applications

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Springer US
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Chemistry; Polymer Sciences; Environmental Chemistry; Materials Science, general; Environmental Engineering/Biotechnology; Industrial Chemistry/Chemical Engineering
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