Assessing the Environmental Impact of End of Life High Voltage Products

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Johansson, Tim
Tamura, Akiho
High voltage (HV) products respond to increased needs for long distance electricity transmission from decentralised power generation systems such as solar and wind power generation. With the expected increase in electricity production from renew able energy and electricity consumption in line with electrification in the industrial and transport sectors, the demand of HV products is expected to increase. Hitachi Energy is a leading manufacturing company in electric power products, and HV products are the main products in one of their main business areas at the com pany. Currently, there is little knowledge about the disposal of HV products and the levels of material recovery and recyclability. Recycling of metals and materials is important both in terms of resource use and environmental impact. The aim of this project is to perform an extensive survey of the current end-of-life man agement of the high voltage products and to assess its environmental impact. To achieve this, a literature study was performed, covering regional regulations and directives in waste handling, primary and secondary metal production, hazardous substances, and concepts of circular economy. Interviews were then conducted with EoL service providers. The environmental assessment was then made based on these results, and on data collection through environmental reports. The results showed high recycling rates for metals and uncontaminated transformer oil, while the small amounts of conventional waste are sent directly to landfill or to incineration for en ergy recovery. Overall, the materials have an even higher recyclability potential and present opportunities to save large amounts of energy and emissions by replacing primary production. The decontamination of hazardous substances, such as PCB contaminated oil and components, is an energy intensive process, but incineration of them results in greater emissions and environmental harm. The hazardous sub stances should be eliminated or replaced in the products, both for environmental reasons but also because handling them constitutes a risk to human health. Replac ing hazardous substances with alternative substances, product design that facilitates recycling at EoL stage, optimising current recycling process in disassembly, separa tion and sorting stages, and dialogues between the product manufacture and EoL service providers are important factors for increasing the level of material recycling and recyclability, and for reducing the environmental impact on a product level.
End of life, EoL, high voltage products, material recycling, Life cycle analysis, LCA, circular economy, waste management
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