Definition of LCA

LCA is an analytical tool used to comprehensively quantify and interpret the environmental flows to and from the environment (including air emissions, water effluents, solid waste, and the consumption/depletion of energy and other resources), over the life cycle of a product or process. LCAs should be performed in adherence to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040 series of standards. The four main parts of an LCA according to ISO 14040 include:

  1. Goal and Scope definition: specifying the reason for conducting the study, intended use of study results, intended audience, system boundaries, data requirements, and study limitations.
  2. Life Cycle Inventory (LCI): collecting, validating and aggregating input and output data to quantify material use, energy use, environmental discharges, and waste associated with each life cycle stage.
  3. Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA): using impact categories, category indicators, characterization models, equivalency factors, and weighting values to translate an inventory into potential impact on human health and the environment.
  4. Interpretation: assessing whether results are in line with project goals, providing an unbiased summary of results, defining significant impacts, and recommending methods for reducing material use and environmental burdens. Examples of life cycle interpretation include contribution analyses and scenario analyses, both of which are used to help understand the results of this study.

The molybdenum LCIs focused on the goal and scoping and LCI phases.