For some products and systems, the presence or absence of nickel Life Cycle Impact (LCI) data makes little or no difference to the LCA outcomes. This is because the amount of nickel used is so small or the burdens (e.g. energy use, carbon as well as other emissions to air, water and soils) associated with other inputs and occuring during the use phase are so large that they render the nickel burden insignificant.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides an understanding of the environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product or service, from raw material mining, through production, manufacture, use and maintenance to disposal or recycling. LCA is a comparison tool used by end users, regulators or other decision makers to determine the best product from an environmental perspective.
Completed in 1941, the Progreso Pier was the first concrete structure in the world built with nickel-containing stainless steel reinforcement. It has been in continuous service for over 70 years without any major repair or significant maintenance. The Progreso Pier underwent a combined environmental life cycle assessment and life cycle costing study to show environmental and economic benefits of using stainless steel reinforcement. The analysis, conducted by sustainability software and consulting company thinkstep, considered the cradle-to-grave impacts of the stainless steel reinforced structure compared with an identical structure reinforced with carbon steel. Engineering experts were engaged to model the alternative structure, accounting for differences in materials, maintenance and estimated service life in the local marine environment.
The full life cycle assessment report is available on request from [email protected]