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​Eco-innovation and lifecycle assessment: turning environmental challenges into opportunities to innovate

Lifecycle analysis

Published on 6 October 2016

Our world’s resources are being stretched to their limits. At Liten, we are committed to ensuring that the technology we develop addresses today’s—and tomorrow’s—environmental challenges. Cost and technology considerations are no longer enough to stay ahead. Today’s innovations must also deliver on environmental performance. Our eco-innovation and lifecycle assessment program, launched in 2010, tackles this issue.

Our eco-innovation program aims at developing proactive solutions to drive technological innovation forward while taking into account environmental considerations and product lifecycle concerns.

The program was created to respond to the technological and economic challenges raised by renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and new materials for energy applications. The goal is to combine value creation—in the form of products and services—with the reduction of environmental impacts throughout the lifecycle of the products and services developed. Our researchers use a wide range of techniques, drawing on opportunity analysis, environmental analysis, functional analysis, use scenarios, evaluation of constraints, and creative research.

In short, we evaluate environmental impacts and come up with solutions that leverage Liten’s broad knowledge. We innovate for and with our customers and address issues in advance of technological research and development to ensure that our lifecycle assessment and eco-innovation services achieve the objectives set.

Our lifecycle assessment (LCA) services aim to develop responsive approaches to achieving better environmental performance. Services are provided alongside development of a technology from Liten’s portfolio for our partners. We leverage lifecycle assessment methods like those in the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards and the ILCD Handbook to perform a quantitative analysis of the environmental benefits and impacts of innovative technologies. We also use a holistic approach to eco-design to ensure that environmental performance is used as a starting point for the development of any new technology and considered at every step in the design and development process. Finally, we can measure the environmental benefits and impacts of a product at all stages in its lifecycle, from manufacturing to use and, ultimately, recycling.

We start by selecting relevant indicators from the European Commission’s list of fifteen impact categories (http://eplca.jrc.ec.europa.eu/?page_id=1159). For example, a technology’s impact on climate change will be measured according to greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalent throughout the technology’s lifecycle.

Factoring in these impacts from the early stages of technology development is crucial to making the most environmentally-responsible choices at subsequent stages in the development process.

BENEFITS

  • ​Innovation is stimulated: new environment-related factors are factored in and the value chain is reimagined to encompass the entire product lifecycle
  • The resulting innovations are more robust: potential technological hurdles relative to environmental standards, regulations, and risks are addressed early on
  • Measuring environmental impacts enables Liten to ensure that the new technologies developed are at the state of the art when it comes to environmental performance
  • Transforming environmental challenges into opportunities for innovation spurs the development of new technologies and secures their long-term viability.

PROJECTS

Since this program was initiated, Liten has gradually expanded it to cover many of our areas of expertise; therefore, the majority of the technologies we develop offer excellent environmental performance. For example, our eco-design and LCA services have been used on several of our PV, battery, and biomass technologies and on our hydrogen and materials technologies for energy systems. Environmental performance was examined at all stages of the product lifecycle, from manufacturing to recycling, and a range of applications were assessed, from electricity, heat, and hydrogen production through to mobility and storage for intermittent energy sources.  Liten is a regular participant in French Energy Agency ADEME’s technical committee, sitting on several working groups

  •  Working group on second-life batteries as an alternative to recycling for EV and hybrid vehicle batteries
  • Technical committee on comparative LCA of electric vehicles and combustion-engine-powered vehicles
  • Working group to develop an environmental impact assessment guide for PV systems using the LCA method
  • Working group on the environmental assessment of hydrogen energy for mobility applications


We have already partnered on LCA, eco-design, and eco-innovation projects with:

  • G-Scop (Grenoble Institute of Technology, UGA, France)
  • Arts et Métiers ParisTech (Chambéry, France)
  • Fraunhofer (Germany, IKWS and IPA)
  • VITO (Belgium, Life-cycle thinking and value chains)
  • EcoInnovazione (Italy, spin-off ENEA)
  • thinkstep (Germany, formerly PE International)
  • IdeasLab (Grenoble, France)

FACTS & FIGURES


  • 2 employees 
  • ​Publications: 

Naveaux E. Enhancing transferability of a technology by joining efforts between concerned research and industry stakeholders during data collection and inventory building for LCA. 7th International Conference on Life Cycle Management. Bordeaux, France. August 30–September 2, 2015.

Naveaux E, Brunot A, Noirot-Le-Borgne I. Assessing the sustainability of an innovative battery technology through the BiBAT project (LIFE+ 2012, Environment Policy and Governance). SETAC Europe 24th Annual Meeting. Basel, Switzerland. May 11–15, 2014.

Gabarrou S, Brunot A, Froelich D. Comparative analysis of photovoltaic life cycle assessments. 27th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition. Frankfurt, Germany. September 22–23, 2012.


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