The Circular Economy Lifecycle Assessment and Visualization Framework: A Case Study of Wind Blade Circularity in Texas

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Moving the current linear economy toward circularity is expected to have environmental, economic, and social impacts. Various modeling methods, including economic input-output modeling, life cycle assessment, agent-based modeling, and system dynamics, have been used to examine circular supply chains and analyze their impacts. This work describes the newly developed Circular Economy Lifecycle Assessment and Visualization (CELAVI) framework, which is designed to model how the impacts of supply chains might change as circularity increases. We first establish the framework with a discussion of modeling capabilities that are needed to capture circularity transitions; these capabilities are based on the fact that supply chains moving toward circularity are dynamic and therefore not at steady state, may encompass multiple industrial sectors or other interdependent supply chains and occupy a large spatial area. To demonstrate the capabilities of CELAVI, we present a case study on end-of-life wind turbine blades in the U.S. state of Texas. Our findings show that depending on exact process costs and transportation distances, mechanical recycling could lead to 69% or more of end-of-life turbine blade mass being kept in circulation rather than being landfilled, with only a 7.1% increase in global warming potential over the linear supply chain. We discuss next steps for framework development.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number671979
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Sustainability
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Hanes, Ghosh, Key and Eberle.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-78734


  • circular economy
  • discrete event simulation
  • life cycle assessment
  • material flow modeling
  • multiscale modeling


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