Life cycle inventory analysis of granite production from cradle to gate

Joan Manuel F. Mendoza, Maria Feced, Gumersindo Feijoo, Alejandro Josa, Xavier Gabarrell, Joan Rieradevall

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24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Granite is a traditional high-quality material that is widely used in construction. A key strategy that is increasingly promoted to highlight the competitiveness of materials is life cycle environmental performance. Due to the lack of comprehensive life cycle inventories (LCIs), the environmental characterisation of granite products has received little attention in scientific literature. In this paper, a complete LCI of the production chain of intermediate and finished granite products is provided and analysed. Methods: The Spanish granite production industry, which is the second major European producer and the seventh worldwide, is examined. The reference unit is defined as 1 m2 of finished granite tiles with dimensions 60 × 40 × 2 cm used for indoor and outdoor applications. Input and output data were collected through the distribution of technical data collection surveys to quarries and processing facilities and via on-site visits. During data calculation and validation, technical support was provided by technicians from the Spanish Cluster of Granite Producers. The LCI data describe the industrial activity in baseline year 2010 that corresponds to a total production volume of 48,052 m3 of quarried granite and a net of 881,406 m2 of processed granite. Results and discussion: The production of 1 m2 of polished granite tiles requires 28 kWh of electricity, 23 MJ of diesel, 103 l of water, and 7 kg of ancillary materials. Sandblasted, flamed or bush-hammered finishes applied to granite tiles have a minimal effect on their total energy and material requirements but significantly affect their water consumption. Electrical energy, cooling water and steel are the major industrial requirements in which granite sawing is the most demanding process. The resource efficiency of the production chain is 0.31. Approximately 117 kg of granite are wasted per square meter of granite tiles that are produced (53 kg). Seventy-four percent of granite waste is composed of granite scrap, which becomes a marketable by-product. The predominant source of granite waste is the sawdust that is generated during stone-cutting operations. Conclusions: LCIs provide the relevant information required to characterise the environmental performance of granite production and products. LCI data can be easily managed by users due to the disaggregation into unit processes. LCI data can be used to analyse the environmental burden associated with intermediary granite products, such as granite blocks, sawn granite slabs and finished granite slabs, and to analyse the environmental burden of finished granite tiles according to the corresponding net production volumes. Recommendations: LCI dataset of granite production should be extended to include alternative production technologies, such as diamond multiwire machines for sawing granite, which is an increasingly competitive production technology with interesting properties for cleaner production. Strong competitive granite industries, such as the industries in China, India and Brazil, should also provide LCIs of granite products to transparently compare different product chains, identify environmental strategies on the sector level, and promote the green procurement of granite products. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-165
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Environmental performance
  • Granite
  • LCI
  • Natural stone
  • Quarrying
  • Resource efficiency
  • Sawing
  • Slabs

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