Considerations of Life Cycle Assessment and the Estimate of Carbon Footprint of Powertrains

Simon Merschak*, Peter Hehenberger, Stephan Schmidt, Roland Kirchberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Legislative regulations and international agreements like the Paris Agreement have been prepared to enforce the effort to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Greater environmental awareness among customers and introduction of strict environmental regulations have challenged designers to consider the environmental impact of products together with traditional design objectives in the early stages of product design. An important environmental impact factor is the carbon footprint of a product because carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are a main cause of the global climate change. An early assessment of the product carbon footprint is beneficial because at this stage, design changes are still possible with little effort and at low cost. Actually, there is no detailed methodology for a CO2 impact estimation in the early design phases available and very few researches have been conducted for the special segment of small powertrains. To speed up the powertrain development process some steps have to be done in parallel (simultaneous engineering), which is taken into account in a simultaneous evaluation of the carbon footprint regarding all life cycle phases (raw material extraction, production of the powertrain, energy (e.g. fuel) production, usage and maintenance, disposal and recycling). This paper aims to point out the importance of an integrated carbon footprint calculation in the design process of small powertrains and presents the prerequisites and future challenges in developing an abridged carbon foot printing methodology. In future, this methodology should enable developers to calculate the carbon footprint of powertrain design concepts. Therefore, methods for the early calculation of the carbon footprint and guidance how to apply and how to combine these methods are required.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAE Technical Papers
Issue number2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020
EventSAE 2020 Small Powertrain and Energy Systems Technology Conference: SETC 2020 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: 10 Nov 202012 Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Pollution
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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