Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.Sc.

Department

Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Edwin Tam

Second Advisor

Andrzej Sobieslak

Keywords

Automotive engineering, sustainability, Environmental engineering

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The objective of this research is to evaluate the environmental performance of polylactic acid (PLA) + flax fiber bio-composite against the current in production composite of polypropylene (PP) + wood dust via life cycle analysis (LCA). The system boundary is an extended gate-to-gate LCA that includes the materials production process. In order to complete the LCA set forth, a necessary iterative process of dataset matching was done to convert NatureWorks LLC's Ingeo (PLA) dataset from the USLCI database to the GaBi database in order to model the LCA conducted. The bio-composite of PLA + flax produces less greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming potentials (GWP) largely due to the carbon sequestration of corn production. The current in production composite of PP + wood dust contributes less to both acidification potential (AP) of seawater and photochemical ozone creation potential (POCP) largely due to less agricultural processes. The polymer resin production process is the primary parameter for energy consumption in both composites.

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