Principles of Life Cycle Inventory Modeling: The Basic Model, Extensions, and Conventions
Book chapter, 2021

The basic model of a life cycle inventory (LCI), with unit processes as smallest modeling entities, emerged already in the very early phases of life cycle assessment (LCA) method development. It is a rather simple, linear model, with a distinction between elementary flows, product flows, and waste flows. Since the early applications, this simple model proved to be very useful and allowed for various expansions. For certain issues related to LCI modeling, solutions and approaches have evolved as extensions of the basic model. Such issues and related modeling challenges include: the multifunctionality problem; the modeling of loops in product systems; the modeling of the use phase; the modeling of transport services; the consideration of time and long-term emissions in LCI; the definition of the boundary between the technosphere and biosphere; and how to address  accidents, incidents, and risks. This chapter presents and explains the basic LCA model and its extensions, where some are commonly used in practice today, and some others not. Furthermore, conventions regarding the modeling of transport services, use phase and products, end of life, are presented.

ISO standards

Use phase

Biogenic carbon





Life cycle inventory (LCI) model



Andreas Ciroth

GreenDelta GmbH

Francesca Recanati

GreenDelta GmbH

Rickard Arvidsson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Life Cycle Inventory Analysis: Methods and Data

978-3-030-62269-5 (ISBN)

Subject Categories

Environmental Engineering

Environmental Management



More information

Latest update