Cradle to gate environmental impact assessment of acrylic fiber manufacturing

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the current study was to analyze the impacts of acrylic fiber manufacturing on the environment and to obtain information for assisting decision makers in improving relevant environmental protection measures for green field investments in developing countries especially in Africa and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions. The key research questions were as follows: what are the different impacts of acrylic fiber manufacturing on the environment and which base material has the highest impact?

Methods

The life cycle assessment (LCA) started from obtaining the raw material until the end of the production process (cradle to gate analysis). Focus was given on water consumption, energy utilization in acrylic fiber production, and generated waste from the industry. The input and output data for life cycle inventory was collected from an acrylic fiber manufacturing plant in Egypt. SimaPro software was used to calculate the inventory of twelve impact categories that were taken into consideration, including global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential (AP), eutrophication potential (EP), carcinogen potential (CP), ecotoxicity potential (ETP), respiratory inorganic formation potential (RIFP), respiratory organic formation potential (ROFP), radiation potential (RP), ozone layer depletion (OLD), mineral depletion (MD), land use (LU), and fossil fuel depletion (FFD).

Results and discussion

LCA results of acrylic fiber manufacturing on the environment show that 82.0 % of the impact is on fossil fuel depletion due to the high-energy requirement for acrylonitrile production, 15.9 % of the impact is on human health, and 2.1 % on ecosystem quality. No impacts were detected on radiation potential, ozone layer depletion, land use, mineral depletion, or human respiratory system due to organic substances.

Conclusions

Based on these study results, it is concluded that acrylic fiber manufacturing is a high-energy consumption industry with the highest impact to be found on fossil fuel depletion and human health. This study is based on modeling the environmental effects of the production of 1-kg acrylic fiber and can serve to estimate impacts of similar manufacturing facilities and accordingly use these results as an indicator for better decision-making.

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Acknowledgments

Special thanks to both Dr. Abdelfattah Yacout and Dr. Abdellatif M. Yacout for their cooperation and support during manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Dalia M. M. Yacout.

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Responsible editor: Sonia Valdivia

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Yacout, D.M.M., Abd El-Kawi, M.A. & Hassouna, M.S. Cradle to gate environmental impact assessment of acrylic fiber manufacturing. Int J Life Cycle Assess 21, 326–336 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-015-1023-3

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Keywords

  • Acrylic fiber
  • Ecosystem quality
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Human health
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Resources
  • Textile