Methods for uncertainty propagation in life cycle assessment

E.A. Groen, R. Heijungs, E.A.M. Bokkers, I.J.M. de Boer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Life cycle assessment (LCA) calculates the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle. Uncertainty analysis is an important aspect in LCA, and is usually performed using Monte Carlo sampling. In this study, Monte Carlo sampling, Latin hypercube sampling, quasi Monte Carlo sampling, analytical uncertainty propagation and fuzzy interval arithmetic were compared based on e.g. convergence rate and output statistics. Each method was tested on three LCA case studies, which differed in size and behaviour. Uncertainty propagation in LCA using a sampling method leads to more (directly) usable information compared to fuzzy interval arithmetic or analytical uncertainty propagation. Latin hypercube and quasi Monte Carlo sampling provide more accuracy in determining the sample mean than Monte Carlo sampling and can even converge faster than Monte Carlo sampling for some of the case studies discussed in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-325
JournalEnvironmental Modelling & Software
Issue numberDecember
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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