Life cycle assessment

Second IPA LCA Study (2017 data)

In 2020, the PGM industry conducted a second industry-wide Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based on 2017 production data and adapting to new reporting requirements. The study was reviewed according to ISO 14040 (2006) & 14044 (2006) and ISO/TS 14071 (2014) by an independent technical expert.

The LCA has been conducted on platinum, palladium, and rhodium, since these are the most relevant metals used in catalytic converters, an application accounting for over 60% of demand in 2017.

In 2022, we have updated our data set with new upstream data (energy etc.) from the GaBi database, reflecting changes in the electricity grid and other areas. There have also been some modifications to the secondary data as more pre-processing data could be included and a more realistic approach to waste stream calculations has been adopted.

The LCA Fact Sheet can be downloaded here.

More information on the second LCA study can be found under PGMs in the Life Cycle.


First LCA data on Iridium and Ruthenium

The IPA membership has undertaken a first industry wide life-cycle assessment of primary iridium and ruthenium, based on the data submitted during the second LCA (2017). Reliable data on iridium appear of particular relevance to us given the rapid development towards a hydrogen economy in the EU, and the upscaling of hydrogen projects based on large-scale water electrolysis. 

Hydrogen produced from water electrolysis is regarded as the key element in future sustainable energy systems. When electrical energy from renewable sources is used for electrolysis, the resulting green hydrogen is potentially free of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). One of the techologies available for green hydrogen generation is proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE). Proton exchange membrane electrolysis cells use iridium (and platinum), a platinum group metal, as catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction. 

Data on iridum and ruthenium are expected to become available to stakeholders in Q4-2022.