For almost 10 years, GE has been applying its expertise in life-cycle thinking (LCT), life-cycle assessment (LCA) and ecodesign. LCT is a systematic approach to managing product-related environmental impacts throughout a product’s life cycle, while LCA is a quantitative method to help understand environmental impacts across the life cycle of a product. Our goals are to identify the most promising opportunities for improvement; to create and maintain momentum toward meaningful change; and to incentivize game-changing products, technologies and solutions.
LCA has been applied to a wide range of GE products and processes, including selected power turbines and engines, aircraft engine components, wind turbines, medical technology, lighting, locomotives, and more. These efforts have ranged from internally focused “screening LCA” studies to full, detailed LCA studies subjected to third-party critical panel review per ISO 14044.
Highlighted Life-Cycle Studies:
Current, powered by GE – GE Evolve™ LED Roadway Luminaires
Technology is changing rapidly, and innovative, solid-state, light-emitting diode (LED) solutions are being designed to meet changing expectations and opportunities. Replacing High-Intensity Discharge (HID) with LED lighting systems can provide greater energy efficiency, reduce maintenance and operating costs, enhance light quality, and extend the life span of light sources and systems.
The LCA study found that LED roadway luminaires have lower impacts in all environmental impact categories studied, primarily due to significantly reduced energy requirements during operation. The results confirm the value of efforts to reduce impacts during use, for example by optimizing hours of operation, utilizing dimming features, and optimizing replacement cycles.
Technology Development in Subsea & Offshore Technology
In 2015, GE and Statoil launched their “Powering Collaboration” partnership to accelerate the development of more environmentally sustainable energy solutions. As part of this program, GE and Statoil jointly developed an LCA / carbon footprint tool tailored to the context of subsea natural gas and oil production. The tool is intended primarily for life-cycle CO2 output comparisons between topside and subsea concepts during field development. GE Oil & Gas and Statoil are committed to the development of environmentally sustainable energy solutions, and the new LCA / carbon footprint calculation tool provides the insights needed to select the most environmentally sustainable technologies at key points during the field development process.
GE Healthcare’s Single-Use Bioprocess Technology
Detailed LCA studies1,2,3 helped determine how single-use technology4 reduces water and energy consumption as compared with the traditional stainless steel process technology it replaces. Although single-use technology introduces new components into the production, distribution and disposal phases, it also reduces or eliminates the need for large quantities of steam, sanitizing chemicals, process water, and the ultra-pure water needed for washing and sterilization of traditional processing equipment. Insights gained through the studies are helping customers evaluate their biotherapeutics process technologies with an eye toward increased productivity and reduced impact.
LCA of Additively Manufactured Fuel Nozzle for CFM LEAP Aircraft Engine
One of the first additively manufactured jet engine components, the CFM International* LEAP fuel nozzle tip, combines 20 parts into one for five times the durability and 25% lighter weight.5 An initial LCA / life-cycle costing (LCC) study of the LEAP nozzle was performed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The pilot study compared the environmental impacts and costs of the additively manufactured fuel nozzle tip with a baseline fuel nozzle tip produced using traditional manufacturing technology, demonstrating considerable environmental and cost savings over the lifetime of a fleet of twin-engine aircraft.
* CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.
Ecodesign is the integration of environmental criteria into product design. The approach seeks to minimize the environmental impact of a given product at every stage of its life cycle and improve environmental performance, while also maintaining or improving its reliability and cost efficiency.
GE Healthcare CARESCAPE Respiratory Modules
In 2013, GE Healthcare Monitoring Solutions launched its miniaturized CARESCAPE Respiratory Modules,* which save space, energy and costs for healthcare delivery in the areas of anesthesia and critical care. Compared to the previous versions, the new modules reduce size and weight by 50% and reduce power consumption by 69%. The module design achieved a GE internal Ecodesign award in 2016.
* CARESCAPE Respiratory Modules may not be available in all markets.
GE Grid Solutions
In response to customer demand for products that reduce life-cycle costs, lower maintenance, increase lifetime, and reduce environmental impact, GE Grid Solutions introduced a new line of Power Transformers. The new power transformer is an eco-designed product optimized for low loss levels and filled with a biodegradable natural ester insulating liquid instead of mineral oil. Natural ester, also called vegetable oil, is directly obtained from seeds and is naturally produced.
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is a versatile gas used in high-voltage power transmission equipment and other industries. SF6 is the preferred insulating and interrupting medium because of its good performance and safety properties, but has a global warming potential 23,500 times that of CO2. GE has developed g3, which is an SF6-free solution that provides similar performance with much lower global warming potential while also meeting health and safety requirements.
GE has also developed a Sealing Solution to prevent SF6 leakages in main Gas-Insulated Substation (GIS) parts. Because SF6 is a potent greenhouse gas, GIS leakages are a major concern for energy company customers. The SF6 sealing solution is easy to install, reversible, reusable, and applicable to any GIS type and brand. This solution helps our customers meet EHS responsibilities and regulatory compliance requirements by reducing greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere.
GE Ecomagination6-qualified solutions recognize breakthrough innovations, commercial products, services and business models that provide better economic and environmental performance for our customers, and are a key component of our strategic effort to accelerate the transition to a more resource-productive economy.
 Kellner, T. “World’s First Plant to Print Jet Engine Nozzles in Mass Production,” July 15, 2014. Available at: http://www.gereports.com/post/91763815095/worlds-first-plant-to-print-jet-engine-nozzles-in/