Evaluating Indicators and Life Cycle Inventories for Processes in Early Stages of Technical Readiness

Eric Tan, Raymond Smith, Gerardo Ruiz-Mercado

Research output: NRELPresentation


This presentation examines different methods for analyzing manufacturing processes in the early stages of technical readiness. Before developers know much detail about their processes, it is valuable to apply various assessments to evaluate their performance. One type of assessment evaluates performance indicators to describe how closely processes approach desirable objectives. Another type of assessment determines the life cycle inventories (LCI) of inputs and outputs for processes, where for a functional unit of product, the user evaluates the resources used and the releases to the environment. These results can be compared to similar processes or combined with the LCI of other processes to examine up-and down-stream chemicals. The inventory also provides a listing of the up-stream chemicals, which permits study of the whole life cycle. Performance indicators are evaluated in this presentation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's GREENSCOPE (Gauging Reaction Effectiveness for ENvironmental Sustainability with a multi-Objective Process Evaluator) methodology, which evaluates processes in four areas: Environment, Energy, Economics, and Efficiency. The method develops relative scores for indicators that allow comparisons across various technologies. In this contribution, two conversion pathways for producing cellulosic ethanol from biomass, via thermochemical and biochemical routes, are studied. The information developed from the indicators and LCI can be used to inform the process design and the potential life cycle effects of up- and down-stream chemicals.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting, 29 October - 3 November 2017, Minneapolis, Minnesota

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-70426


  • biochemical routes
  • biomass
  • cellulosic ethanol
  • LCA
  • LCI
  • life cycle assessment
  • life cycle inventories
  • thermochemical routes


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