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Lightening the environmental footprint of our research

​As a center for research on new energy technologies, CEA-Liten holds a strong belief that the circular economy must be an integral part of its projects. The institute has developed a new tool to assess its performance in this area. The tool will generate fact-based indicators that will provide insights into areas for improvement.

Published on 5 January 2021

Supporting the energy transition through research is good. But it is even better when research projects make the circular economy part of their objectives. No resource is unlimited. Therefore, for any research project, it makes sense to investigate how resources will be used to ensure that the innovations developed will have long and sustainable futures. CEA-Liten began to explore the circular economy in 2017 and has now made it a major focus. 

The product lifecycle is a core circular economy concept. CEA-Liten was able to leverage product lifecycle analysis (LCA) data it had produced during a previous project to develop a tool to manage and monitor in real time the conversion rate of the practices identified into a more circular use of resources. “We were able to utilize French standards organization AFNOR’s exploratory standard as a methodological guide for the development of the tool,” said Aymeric Sperandio, Deputy Head of the Department for New Materials Technologies, CEA-Liten.“The idea is to measure where we are compared to the requirements in the standard.” The tool developed factors in three pillars: the overall research strategy, the extent to which the circular economy has been factored into completed R&D projects, and the resources and energy used to complete the projects. 

The tool, called ICE-T, is built on qualitative multiple-choice questionnaires that take just a few minutes for top management, project managers, and operations managers to complete. The responses are weighted and a score from 0 to 100 is generated, indicating how “circular” a project was.

As CEA-Liten continues to test the tool, staff training on the circular economy will also be rolled out with the goal of further improving the extent to which each stage of CEA-Liten research projects, from design to completion, factors in this approach. The overriding objective is, of course, to reduce environmental impacts. 

©Avavian - Monitoring generates data for the lifecycle analysis (LCA) tool

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