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Life Cycle Assessment of Emerging Technologies

Grimaldi, Fabio; (2021) Life Cycle Assessment of Emerging Technologies. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The environmental impacts of emerging technologies are conventionally identified, regulated, and mitigated only after large-scale deployment. As a result, a considerable number of emerging technologies eventually develop into non-optimized systems, which translate into waste of resources and capitals, and hence reduced competitiveness. Therefore, it is paramount to assess emerging technologies during the nascent stages of their development and expand the conventional set of metrics of the assessment, thus enabling unbiased decisions on the deployment of the technology and promoting sustainable innovation. The challenge is to ensure that the outcomes of the assessment are not compromised by the uncertainties existing at such early stages of technology development. Building on these premises, the Thesis lays the foundations for producing high-fidelity and timely projections of environmental impacts and costs of emerging technologies, presenting an overarching framework for prospective assessments, and testing it on four emerging technologies originating from both academic and industrial R&D, at different stages of their process development: 1) production of formate using CO2 captured from the tail gases of power plants; 2) milli-continuous-flow production of gold nanoparticles for healthcare applications; 3) continuous-flow production of Rufinamide, an anticonvulsant drug; 4) intensified continuous-flow production of zeolite A. The results of the LCA of emerging technologies demonstrate that is possible to provide live and timely feedback to technology developers and identify intervention points and potential solutions for the optimization of the technology since the early stages. Furthermore, the proposed assessment allows to benchmark the performances of the system under analysis against the standard industrial practice, hence quantifying the benefits that would stem from the adoption of innovative production technologies in place of conventional ones. On the whole, LCA of emerging technologies offers an opportunity to structure the collaboration between different actors involved in process innovation. The ultimate goal of this approach is to lay the bases for debating and guiding research and development, and to provide a solid platform to discuss with all necessary stakeholders involved in the deployment of the technology, thus promoting sustainable technology innovation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Life Cycle Assessment of Emerging Technologies
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Chemical Engineering
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10126409
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