Energy and emissions saving potential of additive manufacturing: the case of lightweight aircraft components

Runze Huang, Matthew Riddle, Diane Graziano, Joshua Warren, Sujit Das, Sachin Nimbalkar, Joe Cresko, Eric Masanet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations

Abstract

Additive manufacturing (AM) holds great potential for improving materials efficiency, reducing life-cycle impacts, and enabling greater engineering functionality compared to conventional manufacturing (CM), and AM has been increasingly adopted by aircraft component manufacturers for lightweight, cost-effective designs. This study estimates the net changes in life-cycle primary energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with AM technologies for lightweight metallic aircraft components through the year 2050, to shed light on the environmental benefits of a shift from CM to AM processes in the U.S. aircraft industry. A systems modeling framework is presented, with integrates engineering criteria, life-cycle environmental data, aircraft fleet stock and fuel use models under different AM adoption scenarios. Estimated fleet-wide life-cycle primary energy savings at most reach 70-173 million GJ/year in 2050, with cumulative savings of 1.2–2.8 billion GJ. Associated cumulative GHG emission reductions were estimated at 92.1–215.0 million metric tons. In addition, thousands of tons of aluminum, titanium and nickel alloys could be potentially saved per year in 2050. The results indicate a significant role of AM technologies in helping society meet its long-term energy use and GHG emissions reduction goals, and highlight barriers and opportunities for AM adoption for the aircraft industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1570
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume135
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Keywords

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Energy saving
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Lightweight aircraft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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