A tool for energetic optimization in the conceptual design stage
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Currently there are no easy tools to help the designer knowing the real impact of the product during the conceptual design stage. The aim of this thesis is to create a tool to calculate and evaluate the environmental impact of product manufacturing. This impact is assessed quantifying the energy and the carbon emissions involved in the product. This tool starts from two inputs of material weight and guides the designer through the choice of materials and processes regarding the sustainability of the product. To build this tool, a database has been created compiling all the published info about materials‟ embodied energy and their emissions. Data about the energetic cost of the most common manufacturing processes and the equivalent carbon emission has been also collected. It has been dismissed the study of any empirical data compilation, due to its complexity and difficulty, therefore the data has been collected mainly from university research groups. The created database has been inserted into a calculus sheet to build a customizable template for each case study. There are two pages for inputs; one for materials, where the raw material and its purity is chosen, and another one for processes, where the manufacturing method is chosen. From the raw material weight, the final product weight and the manufacturing processes, the tool estimates in a different sheet the energetic cost and carbon emissions related to the product manufacturing. This sheet shows the weight of waste material, the energy needed to create the material and to process it. Also shows the percentages of energy used for the material extraction and to process the product, the energy consumption of the waste material and the total energy used to manufacture the final product. All these categories of results are also shown for carbon emission. The tool has been evaluated in a case study of two models of wheel rims as final products and their materials and processes are compared to find out which combination is more sustainable. The result of the thesis is a non-complex and fast tool that evaluates approximately the environmental impact of a product design in its conceptual stage.
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