Energy and environmental issues continue to be significant concerns for the shipping industry, especially as they relate to efficiency and overall cost savings in transportation containers for ships and trucks. Industry stakeholders have an increasing interest in evaluating and understanding how replacing conventional wood floors with composite materials can impact the overall life cycle of the containers, contributing to energy savings and reduced greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Bayer MaterialScience LLC co-authors George Pavlovich, product safety & regulatory affairs, Product Sustainability & Life Cycle Assessment; Shen Tian, life cycle specialist; and Harry George, manager, New Applications, Polyurethanes; will share results of a recent study comparing environmental impacts of interest and relevance to the logistics community, such as: energy and GHGs associated with the entire life cycles of flooring made with fiberglass/ polyurethane composites, plywood and bamboo wood. Their presentation, “Life Cycle Assessment of Composite Shipping Container Floors Compared to Conventional Wood Flooring,” will be presented at Composites 2013 in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 29-31, 2013.
A life-cycle assessment quantifies the inputs (materials, energy) and the outputs (emissions, waste) associated with each life cycle stage of a product, estimates impacts (climate change, resource depletion, etc.) and interprets the results to make conclusions – for example – on processes, energy and materials that contribute most significantly to a product’s life cycle.
The presentation will demonstrate findings that the lighter weight of the composite flooring compared with conventional wood flooring could translate to energy savings associated with reduced fuel consumption on container ships and transport applications in general, as well as a smaller carbon footprint. A lighter weight container also provides the possibility of adding more cargo weight.
The study finds that although composite floors may require more energy during manufacturing than wood floors, during the use phase the composite floor saves more energy and avoids GHGs due to its lighter weight. In addition, the authors will address land occupation (land required for cultivation/manufacturing) that was estimated for the composite flooring compared with conventional plywood and bamboo wood.
To learn more about the benefits of polyurethane composite materials for shipping containers, visit Bayer’s booth, #1033, at Composites 2013.