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Review Article Open Access

Innovative insulation materials - specific issues performing LCA in early development phases



Helen Hein*, Joachim Schwarte



1Department of Materials and Construction, Institute of Construction Materials, University of Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 4, Stuttgart, 70569, Germany

Adv. Mater. Proc., 2018, 3 (9), 531-535

DOI: 10.5185/amp.2018/1426

Publication Date (Web):05 November 2018

Copyright © IAAM-VBRI Press



Facing climate change, ecological sustainability forms an important task of recent research, which is scientifically evaluated with life cycle assessments (LCAs). Heating purposes in residential sectors cause substantial amounts of CO2 emissions. Therefore, sustainable insulation material development is essential, whereby aerogels are an attractive substitute with low thermal conductivities. The HOMESKIN project aimed to develop an aerogel-based insulation material that achieves minor environmental impacts by material recycling and efficient manufacturing [1]. The LCA is conducted with GaBi in accordance with EN ISO 14040/14044. However, performing LCA in this state of research has proved difficulties. Therefore, in this study, impacts are investigated on how uncertainties due to missing data and resultant assumptions contribute to deviations in results. For generating LCAs, detecting high energy processes is essential as well as materials with significant environmental impacts. This information considers confidential data and is often not completely accessible, especially for innovative products. Besides, aerogels are produced with chemicals whose economic data are extremely rare or might be outdated. Assumed values could cause uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Furthermore, scale-up scenarios create additional uncertainties. The study demonstrates that environmental impacts in early development stages can hardly be assessed – which indicates that LCA generates pessimistic or too optimistic results. Copyright © 2018 VBRI Press


Life cycle assessment, sustainability, insulation material, aerogel-based, development stage.