This paper presents a method of performing Life Cycle Energy Analysis (LCEA) for the purpose of material selection. The method applies product analysis methods to the evaluation of material options for automotive components. Specifically, LCEA is used to compare material options for a bumper-reinforcing beam on a 1030 kg vehicle. In this analysis, glass fiber composites and high-strength steel beams result in the lowest life cycle energy consumption. This paper also presents a set of life cycle energy terms designed to clearly distinguish between energy consumption occurring during different phases of a product’s life cycle. In addition, this paper compares the results of the LCEA method to those of other energy analyses and demonstrates how different methods of varying thoroughness can result in different material selections. Finally, opportunities are identified for extending this type of analysis beyond both automotive components and energy consumption. In particular, this paper identifies the need to develop similar methods for other environmental indicators.

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