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Engineered nanomaterials reduce but do not resolve life cycle environmental impacts of power capacitors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Abstract Engineered nanomaterials are used to improve the properties of products. Often this results in size reduction or increased functionality, which may result in reduced environmental impacts. At the same time the manufacturing and disposal of the nanomaterials increases the life cycle impacts of the product. In this study the effects of using nano-silica polymers in power capacitors were investigated through life cycle assessment (LCA). The analysis was based on existing production technology which was modified to represent a prototype using nanomaterials. Based on the results, the nanomaterials would reduce impacts by c.a. 20% in the most relevant environmental life cycle impact categories. The main impact categories of the power capacitors were in metal depletion, land transformation and ecotoxicity. Although the nanomaterial based capacitor had slightly lower impacts, it did not resolve the main problems in these categories. Contribution analysis revealed that most of the impact is caused by only a few processes in the life cycle, especially raw materials supply for tin solders and waste treatment of insulating oil. Ecodesign alternatives for targeting the identified environmental hotspots are discussed.


  • Ecodesign, Electronics, Life cycle assessment, Nanotechnology, Power capacitors

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