The Idemat app provides the solution (in choosing the right materials) and brings life cycle assessment closer to the start of the design process, an area where more significant environmental gains can be realized.
Runs offline: partially
Last update: Android 22/12/2016 (v. 1.1) – iOS 20/12/2016 (v. 1.1)
Website of the developer: Idemat
This application, created by Joost Vogtlander and Marinus Meursing, facilitates the choice of raw materials that, from the initial stages of design, contribute to reduce carbon footprint of a new product. To speed this task, this team has designed a visual application that facilitates the understanding of the ecological costs and the carbon footprint of each element that is included in Idemat, a well-known bibliographic database used for the elaboration of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The application has the following options:
- Rank of products, based on an indicator of eco-cost or carbon footprint.
- Choice of end-of-life system of the product or form of final elimination based on three scenarios: landfill; waste treatment & open loop recycling that can include incineration with energy recovery; and closed loop recycling & cofiring, a system based on the guidelines of the circular economy.
- Selection of the different materials, which are grouped into categories such as Metals or Textiles.
The different entries within each category are represented by a bar whose length indicates its greater or lesser environmental impact. The method of treatment of the product at the end of its life is computed in this representation with a darker green if it increases the impact or gray if it is reduced. By clicking on each element, a tab is displayed in which you can consult both the eco-costs and the carbon footprint. In this way virgin nickel, for example, has an initial carbon footprint of 32.10 kg of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of product, but once this mineral is reused in the production process as a raw material, this indicator drops to 2.23 kg of CO2 equivalent. Although the application does not include a comparison system as such, if the different entries of interest are marked as favorites (symbol in the upper right corner), in the Favorites section you can see the different graphical representations quickly.
Each tab also includes links to various sources of information on the internet that allow to know the applications of each raw material and its uses, as well as a code that links to the Idemat database and allows the subsequent analysis of the product life cycle through, for example, software programs such as SimaPro.
Images: screenshots 25/01/2017. ©Idemat / Video: Joost Vogtlander
As Ihobe’s website describes, ecodesign is «an approach that considers the environmental factor as one more criterion when making decisions in the design process of industrial products, in addition to others that have been traditionally taken into account (costs, quality,…)», being its ultimate objective «to improve the environmental performance of products throughout their entire life cycle» and to integrate «environmental issues in the earliest stage of product design».
However, the selection of the raw materials with less environmental impact is a time-consuming task. Applications like Idemat try to facilitate this work through a visual interface that, through bars and colors, allows to compare different products. Despite the lack of knowledge of the person writing this article about ecodesign and sustainable design, it has been verified that the app facilitates the consultation of the different raw materials in comparison with the tables of calculation of the Idemat database (available for its download on the website of the Delft University of Technology) which, it is necessary to aim, incorporates more elements.