R&D and LCA Across the Supply Chain: Choice of Unsaturated Polyester Resins for CC-GRP Pipe Systems

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In today’s economy increased attention is given towards re-using of available resources and using of resources which are re-generable, to evaluate and reduce the impact on the environment. For the polymer industry, the development of alternative and renewable raw materials represents an essential task. The study evaluates the different choices of unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) for production of centrifugally-cast glass reinforced pipe (cc-GRP) systems. The environmental impacts of three types of resin were evaluated and compared. The resins are: UPR standard, UPR containing recycled PET material (rPET-UPR) and UPR containing bio-sourced material (BIO-UPR). The analysis focuses on comparing the variations in environmental indicators caused by resin selection for three increasingly complex product layers (Base plate of cc-GRP shaft, cc-GRP Shaft and 1km cc-GRP Pipe-system). The study equally provides an insight onto R&D and LCA collaboration across the supply-chain. One of the main challenges in LCA today is using specific data from the suppliers instead of generic data. The paper indicates how LCA tools and established R&D processes can be employed to transfer LCA calculations across the supply-chain. BIO-UPR and rPET-UPR are alternatives which are realistic in terms of costs and which ensure the required quality for the manufactured products. rPET-UPR can be used for production of complete pipe systems, with positive environmental indicators. Mechanical proprieties of BIO-UPR restrict its usability and use of this resin presents similarities with the debate regarding use of bio-diesel.

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