Magneti Marelli, the Group company in charge of designing and producing automotive systems and components, also considers LCA as one solution to the ever-higher environmental expectations of stakeholders and a way to distinguish in the market.
In 2013, Magneti Marelli was involved in five LCA projects on the following Business Lines:
- Automotive Lighting: for a thermoset and thermoplastic reflector (completed)
- Powertrain: for a polyamide and polypropylene air/fuel manifold (completed)
- Suspension Systems: for a steel and composite suspension arm (completed)
- Exhaust Systems: for a rolled and stamped muffler (still underway)
- Plastic Components and Modules: for an innovative injection process in multilayer fuel tanks (still underway)
All of these LCAs were comparative, that is, a component whose life cycle, resulting wastes and consumptions are known and are subsequently compared with innovative solutions, in order to gather more information for strategic choices. This is obtained integrating LCA results with internal assessments about technical and economic feasibility.
These projects have had varying outcomes. In one case, while the innovative solution was comparable to the conventional method, it presented technical limits, making it impossible to choose either one or the other without some kind of trade-off. In the other cases, new materials yielded a better performance not only from an environmental standpoint, but even from a technical and cost perspective. The LCA methodology also highlighted an unexpected impact of new materials, which consequently are no longer competitive.
To optimize its organization, Magneti Marelli established an internal LCA Committee and an Operational Team. The LCA Committee is responsible for assessing and validating results, as well as establishing KPIs and targets, while the Operational Team supports and coordinates teams within the Business Lines. Magneti Marelli teams receive scientific support from the University of Florence’s Mechanical Engineering Department.
Additionally, in order to quantify performance results, in 2014 Magneti Marelli will add a KPI in each individual Business Line based on the percentage of revenues represented by vehicle components that underwent LCA projects. Finally, LCA activities could become part of Magneti Marelli's Environment and Energy Pillar in WCM methodology, comprising an innovative contribution to this manufacturing standard. In the next few years, the aim is to gradually involve all Business Lines, applying LCA to more and more components while they are still being designed. In addition, more employees are expected to be trained to use the tools and methods aimed at consolidating this approach in the company, thus changing the mindset and reducing the impact of products and processes. The higher goal is to become the most environmentally-conscious company in the eyes of its stakeholders.
LCA case study on the production of biodiesel from frying oil
When not disposed of properly, frying oil from households or restaurants may cause clogging of waste drainage pipes and sewage systems, water contamination and soil sealing. The production of biodiesel from frying oil and its utilization for energy generation is a potential alternative to disposal, adding value to this waste through its use as an energy source. In this study, we investigated a proposal to produce biodiesel from frying oil to fuel the vehicles used for employee transport at the Fiat plant in Betim (Brazil). Besides the technical and economic evaluation, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed according to the CML 2001 methodology to examine the environmental feasibility of producing biodiesel from frying oil and its use as fuel in the minibuses, replacing conventional B5 diesel with B50. We observed a potential 44% reduction in GHGs, 34.5% in ODSs and a saving of 49.5% in abiotic resource consumption. The conclusion of the project's final evaluation was that using frying oil for biodiesel production and to fuel the fleet will potentially yield significant environmental benefits.