A modular LCA/LCC-modelling concept for evaluating material and process innovations in carbon fibre manufacturing
Widespread use of carbon fibre across various industry sectors remains limited due to the high costs of the raw materials and energy demands during production. Furthermore, the environmental impacts associated with its manufacturing process, may significantly reduce the potential benefits of weight reduction or material savings in the end products. Despite the excellent mechanical and chemical properties, which would make the material a viable substitute in a wide range of applications, further production and cost improvements are necessary to raise interest and demand. The scarcity of available carbon fibre production related data and the confidentiality of the few commercial carbon fibre suppliers hinders further research efforts towards these improvements. This paper proposes a dynamic, modular Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) concept tailored for carbon fibre production and is based on a pilot production set-up (120t/year). The model is intended to accelerate the assessment of carbon fibre production and serves as a tool for the exploration of various scenarios, including alternative precursor material, different carbon fibre grades or varying production parameters. In this paper the model is specified, embedded in the environment it is intended to be used and applied to a production setup based on data collected using the pilot scale carbonisation line at Carbon Nexus, a unique, open-access carbon fibre/composite research facility in Victoria, Australia.