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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/25220

Title: A systemic approach to an environmental techno-economic assessment alongside technology development
Authors: Thomassen, Gwenny
Van Dael, Miet
Van Passel, Steven
Issue Date: 2017
Citation: 8th International Conference on Life Cycle Management, Luxembourg, 03-06/09/2017
Abstract: The cost of improving a parameter in an early stage of technology development is relatively low. However, as not much data is available in this stage, most assessments are only performed in later stages of technology development. Moreover, most assessments only focus on one dimension, e.g. technology, economy or environment. This approach can only highlight possible improvements when the implementation costs are relatively high and without indicating which possible effects this will have in all three dimensions. We propose a systematic approach to assess a new technology from the earliest stage of technology development until industrial commercialization. This approach integrates a technological, environmental and economic assessment into one assessment methodology: the environmental techno-economic assessment (ETEA). The ETEA is based on an integration of the life cycle assessment (LCA) and the techno-economic assessment (TEA) methodology and consists of five steps: 1) a market study, which includes for example the gathering of information of market prices, market volumes, potential competitors and legal requirements; 2) the construction of a process flow diagram and mass and energy balance, which forms the technological backbone of the assessment; 3) an environmental analysis, based on the LCA approach; 4) an economic analysis, which determines the profitability of the technology; 5) an interpretation step including a risk analysis. The integrated approach enables analysing the effect of a change in a parameter in one dimension on the output parameters in all dimensions. Parameters can be identified which have a crucial impact on one or more of the output parameters. This enables the specification of potential synergies or trade-offs between the different dimensions. The five steps are further specified for each stage of technology development. These stages of technology development are identified according to the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) classification. For each stage, the following aspects are defined: • The specific goal of the technology assessment during this stage and the condition which needs to be fulfilled to continue to the next stage • The system boundaries, both qualitative and quantitative, which need to be included for all three dimensions • The data quality requirements, both for foreground as for background data • Streamlining techniques which can be used to gather the required data • The specification of required analyses during the different steps, for example a contribution analysis and/or a data quality analysis in the interpretation step The different aspects are applied to a case study on algae-based biorefineries which produce carotenoids and fertilizer. This case study enables the illustration of the approach for a technology which is situated at a relatively low TRL level. Recommendations are formulated to improve the economic profitability and lower the environmental impact. Their application can shorten the time-to-market for this new technology. The proposed specifications enable a systematic approach where a new technology can be guided along its development to enable a minimal impact on the environment while maximizing economic profits. This approach contributes to a more harmonized assessment of emerging technologies instead of the varying streamlining techniques which are currently used.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/25220
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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