WE.3.B || SDG Corporate Responsibility
Buchner, Georg A.; Klose, Svenja; Glardon, Oliver; Fröhling, Magnus
There is a lack of guidance for technology assessment in early development stages. Practitioners ask for a comprehensive yet simple tool that allows for science-based decision-making at low data availability. Early identification of key factors that influence sustainability is highly valuable as it allows for their early consideration to save resources and facilitates goal-oriented technology development. This contribution aims at providing practitioners in the chemical and process industries with low-threshold access to science-based sustainability assessment expertise. A respective tool should assist in the development of viable processes while concurrently meeting ecological targets. Four assessment phases, methods based on data availability, and the integration of different assessment fields and stakeholder perspectives constitute the underlying working principles and lead to quick, transparent, and comprehensive assessment. To set up the tool, an iterative, interdisciplinary approach was chosen, employing constant review and practitioners’ feedback as well as adjustment to newly identified requirements. Based on established practices from techno-economic and life cycle assessment, the tool comprises a set of technical, economic, and environmental indicators for a coherent comparison of technology alternatives. Innovations with Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) between two to five can be assessed. A user-friendly interface facilitates MATLAB-based calculations. Practitioners can recurrently apply the tool as the TRL of their technology increases, and thereby monitor progress and the effectiveness of technical adjustments. The developed tool provides a stepping-stone for advanced streamlined sustainability assessments and allows for future integration of further aspects such as a social sustainability dimension. The contribution describes the methodological approach, the tool itself, and provides a case study to demonstrate the tool’s functionalities.