Environmental impact assessment of China's primary aluminum based on life cycle assessment

Yi Yang, Yao-qi Guo*, Wen-song Zhu, Jian-bai Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Assessing and accounting for material consumption and environmental impact are necessary to measure environmental externalities of the aluminum industry and to construct an ecological civilization. In this research, life cycle assessment (LCA) theory was used to assess the environmental impact of primary aluminum based on the lime soda Bayer process and different power generation modes, and the sources and distributions of the four selected impact categories were analyzed. The results show that, (1) Negative environmental impact of aluminum industry generally occurs from alumina extraction, carbon anode fabrication and electrolysis, particularly electrolysis and alumina extraction. Primary energy demand (PED), water use (WU), global warming potential (GWP) and freshwater eutrophication potential (FEP) are main environmental impact categories. (2) The environmental load with thermal power is higher than that with hydropower, e.g., for the former, the greenhouse gas emission coefficient of 21800 kg CO2 eq/t (Al) will be generated, while for the latter, 4910 kg CO2 eq/t (Al) will be generated. (3) Both power mode methods reflect the energy structure, whereas direct emissions reflect the technical level, indicating the potential for large energy savings and emission reductions, and some policies, related to clean power, energy efficiency and technological progress, should be made for emission reduction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransactions of Nonferrous Metals Society of China
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1784-1792
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • emission reduction potential
  • environmental impact
  • life cycle assessment
  • primary aluminum


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