Product systems in the overall focus
The depiction of special materials – high-performance plastics, rare metals, vegetable extracts, carbon fibers, and composites – in Life Cycle Assessments is the core competence of the Working Group on Materials and Product Systems. This extends from production of the basic materials and their processing into workpieces and components, up to end-of-life recycling or disposal. Materials and components are always integrated into overall value-added chains, which in the context of Life Cycle Assessments we refer to as product systems.
The basis is provided by the modeling of mass and energy analyses of the individual processes in the value-added chain and the life cycle, combined into a system model. The relevant product-related material and energy flows can already be derived from this and depicted in the value-added chain. For optimization toward sustainable development on a process and system level, both the ecological and the economic drivers in the process chain can be identified and the significance of individual process parameters compared against the options for varying entire product systems, whereby complex interdependences are taken into account and discussed in detail. The results provide support both to scientists in the development of materials and processes for the more distant future, and to companies in strategic decisions relating to materials and processes; they also serve as criteria for the awarding of labels such as Carbon Footprints or Environmental Product Declarations (EPD, PEF).