An Overview of the Circular Economy Lifecycle Assessment and VIsualization (CELAVI) Framework

Research output: NRELPresentation


A circular economy emphasizes the efficient use of all resources (e.g., materials, land, water). Despite anticipated overall benefits to society, the transition to a circular economy is likely to create regional differences in impacts. Current tools are unable to fully evaluate these potential externalities, which will be important for informing research prioritization and regional decision making. This presentation will review and contrast nine current impact assessment methods and describe their granularity, scope, data requirements, and capabilities within the context of identifying regional and sectoral transfers of impacts that could result from transitioning to a circular economy for energy systems. The review of current approaches highlights the need for a new hybrid circularity assessment framework that leverages multiple methods. We describe one such approach: the Circular Economy Lifecycle Assessment and VIsualization (CELAVI) framework. CELAVI uses system dynamics to model material flows for multiple circular economy pathways, network theory to track the spatial and sectoral flow of functional units across a graph, and discrete event simulation to to step through time and evaluate lifecycle assessment data at each time step. The framework is designed to be flexible and scalable enough to accommodate multiple energy materials and multiple energy technologies. CELAVI's hybridization of multiple existing methods yields additional capabilities, which may help answer questions about how flows between the technosphere and ecosphere may evolve if the circularity of energy systems is modified.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at the American Center for Lifecycle Assessment (ACLCA) 2020 Conference, 22-24 September 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-77599


  • circular economy
  • discrete event simulation
  • environmental impacts of energy systems
  • hybrid methods
  • life cycle assessment
  • material flows in energy systems
  • Python
  • system dynamics


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