Background: Preliminary investigations have identified some key examples of design decisions that may have an influence on the life cycle impacts of the product that are comparable to the use phase impacts. Among them are:
• Raw materials and manufacturing: LED lifetime is directly affected by ambient temperatures. As a result, LED lighting products require substantial heat-sinks of aluminum or other thermally conductive material. The cradle-to-gate energy required to produce the heat sink, which is estimated at approximately 200 MJ, is comparable to the energy consumed during several thousand hours of product use, and is thus a significant factor in a life-cycle evaluation as proposed in this collaborative project.
• Upgradability: The ability to change out the LED devices for newer models while retaining much of the remaining fixture will have significant life-cycle advantages. However, thus serviceability must be designed into the initial product, and involves tradeoffs in cost and convenience which are being addressed in this project.
• End-of-life: LED lighting products do not contain mercury, and generally meet Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) compliance. However, LEDs do contain a wide variety of less common materials. New regulatory requirements, such as the REACH regulation in the EU, may affect the supply and availability of certain materials, and may have consequences related to extended producer responsibility that will incur obligations for the manufacturer, and will limit disposal options for the consumer, at end-of-life.
This project has analyzed the effect of such factors on the life-cycle performance of LED products. Prototypes of redesigned fixtures and fixture components incorporating the design alternative will be fabricated and tested, and the evaluations will insofar as possible be based on actual test results.
Implementation: The results of the evaluations will be used to formulate a set of best-practices guidelines to be disseminated to the greater industry.
The methodology of the life-cycle evaluations, and aggregate summaries of the data, along with the guidelines, will be made available to the public on the NCMS website.
NCMS Project Manager: Manish Mehta (734)995-4938