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Hemijska industrija 2009 Volume 63, Issue 3, Pages: 163-169
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Life cycle assessment (LCA) of lead-free solders from the environmental protection aspect

Mitovski Aleksandra M., Živković Dragana T., Balanović Ljubiša T., Štrbac Nada D., Živković Živan D.

Life-cycle assessment (LCA) presents a relatively new approach, which allows comprehensive environmental consequences analysis of a product system over its entire life. This analysis is increasingly being used in the industry, as a tool for investigation of the influence of the product system on the environment, and serves as a protection and prevention tool in ecological management. This method is used to predict possible influences of a certain material to the environment through different development stages of the material. In LCA, the product systems are evaluated on a functionally equivalent basis, which, in this case, was 1000 cubic centimeters of an alloy. Two of the LCA phases, life-cycle inventory (LCA) and life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA), are needed to calculate the environmental impacts. Methodology of LCIA applied in this analysis aligns every input and output influence into 16 different categories, divided in two subcategories. The life-cycle assessment reaserch review of the leadfree solders Sn-Cu, SAC (Sn-Ag-Cu), BSA (Bi-Sb-Ag) and SABC (Sn-Ag-Bi-Cu) respectively, is given in this paper, from the environmental protection aspect starting from production, through application process and finally, reclamation at the end-of-life, i.e. recycling. There are several opportunities for reducing the overall environmental and human health impacts of solder used in electronics manufacturing based on the results of the LCA, such as: using secondary metals reclaimed through post-industrial recycling; power consumption reducing by replacing older, less efficient reflow assembly equipment, or by optimizing the current equipment to perform at the elevated temperatures required for lead-free soldering, etc. The LCA analysis was done comparatively in relation to widely used Sn-Pb solder material. Additionally, the impact factors of material consumption, energy use, water and air reserves, human health and ecotoxicity have been ALSO considered including the potentials for dissolution and recycling processes.

Keywords: LCA, life cycle, lead-free solders

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