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Life-Cycle Assessment of Electric Rice Cooker: A Case Study

[+] Author Affiliations
Zhenghui Sha, Gaurav Ameta

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Paper No. IMECE2011-64356, pp. 859-865; 7 pages
doi:10.1115/IMECE2011-64356
From:
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 3: Design and Manufacturing
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5489-1
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME

abstract

Nowadays, almost every family has one electric rice cooker, thus making electric rice cooker one of the most popular household appliance in our society. If the product is not designed ecologically and is used heavily, then the product may lead to large ecological impact to our environment. To assess a product’s environmental impacts, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is utilized. However, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, for one such technology (electric rice cooker), no complete LCA studies have existed by far. Therefore, the question about the electric rice cooker’s environmental performance is still open. This paper presents an LCA study for the complete life cycle of an electric rice cooker with the power 500Watts as the functional unit. In order to conduct LCA study, the whole life cycle of electric rice cooker was divided into four primary phases: raw materials acquisition, product manufacturing, product utilization and final disposal. To facilitate the data collection and LCA implementation, the whole life cycle system was classified as two subsystems — background system and foreground system. Based on the proposed method, primary data and environmental impact calculation was aided by Simapro 7.2 software. In the light of the Ecoindicator-99 methodology, eleven impact categories (Carcinogens, Resp. organics, Resp. inorganics, Climate change, Radiation, Ozone layer, Ecotoxicity, Acidification, Land use, Minerals, Fossil fuels) were used for the classification and characterization of the life cycle impact assessment. In this paper, the LCA study was found as a very helpful tool to define ecodesign measures for this product. Several measures are suggested to the manufacturers to implement the ecodesign in the future: 1) Use recyclable plastics in the minor parts and hidden components, such as switcher, handle etc.; 2) Reduce the number of different materials in packaging; 3) Avoid incompatible plastics during recycling; 4) Minimize the volume of the heat plate on the premise of meeting the rated heating power.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME

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