Life cycle assessment and biodegradability of biobased composites
The current research analyzes the sustainability of novel biobased composites developed at the Composite Materials and Structures Center (CMSC) as an alternative to petroleum-based composites for automotive applications. A Comparative cradle-to-pellet life cycle assessment (LCA) of Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)-Kenaf and Polypropylene (PP)-Glass composites was carried out based on ISO 14040 series of standards. Inventory analysis for both the composites included resource consumption and emissions, and for a better understanding of this data, CML impact assessment methods were used to classify inventory flows based on their environmental impacts. Impact assessment results present qualified improvement in the environment profile of biobased composites, with significant reduction in energy consumption and global warming potential, and increased eutrophication and acidification potential for PHB-Kenaf composites. Finally, the sensitivity of the LCA results due to use of different allocation and impact assessment method was analyzed. In the second part of the research, the biodegradability of these composites under controlled composting environment was assessed based on ASTM D5338 standard. The study, carried out for more than two months, revealed that biobased composites degraded substantially, evident from the quantitative evaluation of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as from the visual inspection of the composite samples. LCA results in combination with biodegradability assessment, confirmed the sustainability of the biobased composites analyzed.
0794: Materials science