TU.3.C || Operationalising Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

Martín-Gamboa, Mario; Dufour, Javier; Iribarren, Diego

The challenge of sustainable development requires decarbonised and socially responsible supply chains. At the analytical level, life-cycle approaches should benefit from an exhaustive definition of supply paths. This is especially critical in the case of energy systems, which usually involve complex supply chains. This work presents a sound protocol for the definition of representative supply chains in Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA). The proposed procedure is based on the combined use of well-established life cycle inventory (LCI) and trade databases. While the use of conventional LCI databases allows defining the main flows of components, materials and energy along a supply chain, the herein automatised use of trade databases leads to identify representative countries of origin for these flows. The protocol is illustrated through the case study of a novel photoreactor system for fuel and chemical production in Spain, with a focus on the cells that form the reactor stack. The resultant cell supply chain includes > 30 processes within a two-tier structure. Nine countries were identified as suppliers of the cell components (e.g., Turkey for the membrane and France for the photocathode), while fourteen countries were set as suppliers of materials (e.g., USA, France and Germany as a mix of suppliers of PVC for membrane production, and USA as an exporting country of copper oxide for photocathode manufacturing). Overall, it is expected that this protocol contributes to practical LCSA by facilitating the adaptation of the analysis to the specific features of the product system under evaluation, including enhanced regionalised assessment. Acknowledgements: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101017928.