Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Engineered Nanomaterials in Carbon Capture and Utilisation Processes

  • Glyn Griffiths

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


CO2 is a waste product from a number of human activities such as fossil fuel powergeneration, industrial manufacturing processes, and transport. The rising concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is heating the planet’s surface via the well-established greenhouse effect; a mechanism for many irreversible climate change impacts. Coupled to this is the ever-increasing global pressure over the availability and access to fossil fuel reserves; the foundations of modern society. In recognition of this CO2 is gaining renewed interest as a carbon feedstock, a changing of attitude viewing it as an asset rather than waste. Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) technologies are attempting to make use of it. However, little quantitative assessment work has been done to assessand verify such potentials.This thesis applies the principles and framework of the life cycle assessment (LCA) -environmental management tool to early stage CO2 utilisation laboratory processes. All processes employ engineered nanomaterials (ENM) to perform this function, a material class leading the way in the challenges of efficient and feasible CO2 chemistry. The LCA contribution in this thesis acts as a measuring and a guiding tool for technology developers, in the first instance to document the cradle-to-gate impacts of a number of formed ENMs. Appreciating the net environmental benefits of ENM uptake within society has yet to be wholly established, and the unavailability of data is recognised as a major factor. The work of this thesis will thus contribute to knowledge gaps, and be informative to wider community seeking to quantify technical performance benefits of ENMs in the context of net life cycle impact burdens.Finally the actual CCU processes are assessed, initially within the confines of thelaboratory but further expanded for consideration at more industrially relevant scales.The potential for sound CCU performance were found achievable under best caseconditions, with net GHG impact reductions over the life cycle, and the potential forlower impact carbon products, even carbon negative. However other environmentalimpacts such as ozone depletion, toxic emissions and the consumption of precious metalores are impacts that require consideration in the use of such technologies.
Date of Award18 Sept 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
SupervisorMarcelle McManus (Supervisor) & Matthew Jones (Supervisor)


  • life cycle assessment
  • Nanotechnology
  • Carbon nanotube (CNT)
  • Nanoparticles
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Environmental engineering
  • Environmental Accounting
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Fischer-Tropsch
  • Electrochemistry
  • Catalysis

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