GLRPPR Sector Resource: Energy and emissions saving potential of additive manufacturing: the case of lightweight aircraft components
Energy and emissions saving potential of additive manufacturing: the case of lightweight aircraft components
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.
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Journal of Cleaner Production, article in press
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