Design for Life Cycle: Modularity Considering End of Life Cycle and Carbon Footprint

Open Access
Lin, Tien-Kai
Graduate Program:
Industrial Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Gul Kremer, Thesis Advisor
  • modularity
Modularity has been widely used and studied in both industry and academia. Modular products consist of detachable modules that can be manufactured, assembled, and serviced separately. Some modular components (or modules themselves) can be reusable, recyclable, or even re-manufacturable after reaching the end of their original product life cycle. Of interest, environmental issues including energy usage and the production of carbon waste gas during the manufacturing process have attracted attention in the modular design field. Thus it is incumbent upon module design developers to generate additional benefits along a product’s life cycle to help alleviate negative environmental impact. This study presents a modular design methodology for life cycle engineering that takes into consideration environmental factors. The methodology encompasses the following stages: problem definition, initial modularization, modularity considering multiple factors, and modularity analysis. The approach identifies factors related to design objectives, component connection, component end-life factors, and carbon footprint impact. A refrigerator case study is provided to illustrate the methodology. Modularization differences under various factors are taken into consideration. Results are presented for two types of modularity methods, and each approach focuses on different objectives. The environmental impact (including energy waste and carbon footprint during assembly/manufacturing) was analyzed by dissecting a refrigerator and applying SimaPro (LCA simulation software) to the conditions. Results indicate that the proposed methods will allow a designer to find alternative solutions under multiple objective situations. Significantly, a new factor—the carbon footprint—is introduced into modularization.