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How to Leverage LCA: Three Case Studies

In addition to our leading life cycle assessment analysis, software, and training services, we provide support for our clients on best practices in the positioning and communication of their LCA studies.  

In this post, we share three case studies of new technologies and explain how they leveraged their LCA to support the attainment of key organizational objectives.

Case Study: Biofine Developments Northeast (Biofine) 

Biofine has developed an advanced biofuel derived from lignocellulosic biomass, ethyl levulinate, that has potential application as a low-carbon heating fuel. The Biofine technology enables the economic production of 100% renewable chemicals and second-generation advanced biofuels from any cellulosic waste stream. Biofine’s biofuel can be substituted for conventional home heating oil with minor retrofitting of the oil furnace. 

Because of the inherent carbon reduction benefit of its biofuel, Biofine is positioning its biofuel as a low carbon alternative to conventional home heating oil. 

Biofine used the results of a critically reviewed LCA to secure capital to build a production facility and establish a distributor relationship with Sprague, a leading Maine based oil dealer.  In their joint press release, the two firms stated:

We see this agreement as a critical step towards establishing a new industry that we believe will become a cornerstone of Maine’s decarbonization goals, equitable rural development, job creation, and forest economy resurgence,” commented Dr. Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Biofine. “The potential impact of establishing a beneficial circular economy within the state and Northeastern U.S. with the Biofine technology could be enormous.
We’re excited by the prospect of EL to contribute to the region’s decarbonization goals while leveraging existing heating system infrastructure and supporting consumer choices,” said Dave Glendon, President and CEO of Sprague. “Low carbon liquid fuels offer the greatest potential for meaningful, near-term reduction in emissions, and we believe that Biofine’s process is an innovative approach to supporting Maine’s forest products’ economy and renewable energy goals.

Biofine effectively used LCA to guide the scaling up of their production process and to confirm the potential carbon reduction benefits of its home heating solution compared to conventional home heating oil. Results of a preliminary LCA were shared internally and with prospective partners, including investors and supply chain partners, under non-disclosure agreement (NDA). By proceeding to a full critical review of the LCA, they are able to also share the results externally while meeting the ISO standards for public study dissemination.  Biofine's thoughtful, step by step process and LCA findings provided the leverage to commercialize their technology while reducing potential risk.

Case Study: Navitas Semiconductor

Founded in 2014, Navitas develops ultra-efficient gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors. GaNFast ICs enable the highest energy efficiency, highest integration and highest power density in applications ranging from fast chargers for smartphones, laptops and tablets to TVs, data centers, electric vehicles, eMobility and energy generation from renewables. The CO2 footprint to manufacture and ship GaN is up to 10x lower than silicon and reduces end application footprint by up to 30%. 

For product developers, Navitas GaN provides the capability to design smaller, lighter, faster as well as greener power conversion and power management solutions.  Positioning on the design and environmental benefits broadens the appeal of the Navitas solution.

Navitas commissioned EarthShift Global to perform LCA comparing their GaN IC to a conventional silicon-based IC. The LCA was considered critical to attracting investor and customer interest in the start up company. Navitas used critically reviewed LCA results to position their GaN IC in the market and to help substantiate their claim of carbon neutrality, which they announced in a press release

As with Biofine, Navitas' thoughtful, step by step process using LCA has supported their ability to commercialize their technology while reducing potential risk.  It has also supported their ability to broaden the benefits and potential markets they can effectively serve.

Case Study: Bolt Threads

Founded in 2009, Bolt Threads is a producer of innovative materials including MiloTM a mycelium-based replacement for synthetic and natural leathers. To make Mylo, they use less hazardous chemistry, design to reduce life cycle impacts, and require strict ethical labor and production practices. 

EarthShift Global performed an LCA for Bolt Threads to understand the environmental impact of their Mylo vegan leather. Because of its design intention, Mylo is positioned as a vegan alternative to leather.

As a leather substitute, Bolt Threads needed to raise visibility of their Mylo vegan alternative to attract investors and to establish customer relationships.  Dan Widmaier, their CEO, did a TED talk on the future of fashion made from mushrooms. The company was able to obtain favorable coverage in leading publications that reached their financial and end customer target markets:

In all three case studies, the companies were able to leverage their LCA to advance their core business objectives.  

This was possible through a combination of thoughtfully designed LCA and transparent, authentic communications. We designed the LCAs to yield the product/process insights and to also allow for identification of additional benefits that could be used to strengthen the positioning of the new technologies (such as the lighter weight being of value to Navitas target designers).  We provide guidance to our clients on how to effectively communicate their LCA results while avoiding the risks of greenwashing and green blushing.  This guidance can include choice of target audiences, product positioning, media, and messaging.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can leverage LCA, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.