Environmental Management

, Volume 21 , Issue 4 , pp 635 –642

ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITING: The Functional Unit in the Life Cycle Inventory Analysis of Degreasing Processes in the Metal-Processing Industry

  • Matthias  Finkbeiner
  • Elke  Hoffmann
  • Günter  Kreisel

DOI: 10.1007/s002679900056

Cite this article as:
Finkbeiner, M., Hoffmann, E. & Kreisel, G. Environmental Management (1997) 21: 635. doi:10.1007/s002679900056

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and C2 hydrocarbons (trichloroethane, trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, dichloromethane). Measures aiming at the reduction of toxic emissions and ozone depletion potential (ODP) may possibly lead to a shift of environmental impacts towards higher energy consumption, emission of waste water, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) with photochemical oxidant creation potential (POCP). The present article concerns itself with a life cycle assessment of the three main degreasing processes in order to compare their integral environmental impacts with one another. This is supplemented by presenting the methodology of the life cycle inventory life cycle inventory analysis (LCI). Generally, the applicability of the established LCI method can be shown quite clearly. However, some difficulties arise, especially at the stage of the goal definition, as the use of the process and the functional unit cannot be pinned down as easily and neatly as for most other products. The definition of the use of the process and the functional unit is not as straightforward as for most products. Among the potential functional units identified are the mass of removed impurities, cleaning time, cleaning work, percentage of purity, throughput of parts, loads, mass or surface and virtual coefficients. The mass of removed impurities turned out to be the most suitable parameter for measuring the technical performance of degreasing processes. The article discusses background, purpose, scope, system boundaries, target group, process tree and representativeness of the present study.

KEY WORDS: Functional unit; Life cycle assessment; Life cycle inventory analysis; Degreasing processes; Metal processing

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias  Finkbeiner
    • 1
  • Elke  Hoffmann
    • 1
  • Günter  Kreisel
    • 1
  1. 1.Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena Institute for Technical Chemistry Lessingstrasse 12 07743 Jena, Germany DE