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Environmental data for materials: a new release from Granta

22 June 2014

Granta Design has announced the latest updates to its environmental data for materials. This release addresses two major challenges for providers of eco data: confidence and coverage.

New ‘traceability’ features help users to build trust in the data, which is drawn from a range of respected sources.  Access to data from the ecoinvent database extends a data library that is already unique, covering the complete range of engineering materials, integrating eco properties with the engineering, cost, regulatory, and other data needed to make effective materials-related decisions.

The data is applied to understand the environmental and regulatory risks associated with materials, processes, and products. It enables practical eco design, supporting ‘streamlined LCA’ (Life Cycle Analysis) integrated into early-phase product development. Engineers save development time, avoid compliance problems, and improve product performance, while reducing environmental impact.

Granta’s MaterialUniverse data module provides property data on thousands of engineering materials—complete and normalized, enabling meaningful comparison and selection for metals, polymers, composites, ceramics, and natural materials.

Systematic coverage includes, for example, all commonly-used metal alloys and the full range of filled and unfilled engineering plastics. Engineering and economic data is complemented by eco data, including properties for estimating environmental impacts (e.g., energy to produce a material, CO2 footprint, processing energies) and information that helps ‘design for the environment’ (e.g., recycling data).

This comes from combining an extensive list of respected sources—examples include ecoinvent, Plastics Europe Eco-profiles, and the University of Bath ‘Inventory of Carbon & Energy’ (ICE). Where no data is available, properties are modeled (and this fact is clearly marked), avoiding ‘holes’ in the property data.

For data based on reference sources, new traceability features mean users see which sources and values were used for each data point. This gives further confidence in the quality of the data and enables greater understanding as it is applied.

One source for MaterialUniverse is the ecoinvent database from the Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, widely regarded as a standard for Life Cycle Inventory data. Granta software users wishing to directly access ecoinvent data can now use a new ‘ecoinvent Key Materials Indicators’ data module.

This provides the most relevant indicators for making material choices (embodied energy, carbon footprint, water usage, resource consumption) for the materials covered by ecoinvent. These can be searched, browsed, plotted, and compared as an integral part of Granta’s reference data library.

MaterialUniverse and ecoinvent are just two of almost 30 modules in this library, accessible via Granta’s GRANTA MI and CES Selector software. Other modules relevant to product risk include the Restricted Substances data module, which provides information on chemical substances and related regulations, and the Critical Materials data module, which supports understanding of supply risk (due to conflict minerals, for example).

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