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Computer vision for LCA foreground modelling-an initial pipeline and proof of concept software, lcopt-cv
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Sustainability Assessment and Management.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9560-3132
2019 (English)In: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, ISSN 0948-3349, E-ISSN 1614-7502, Vol. 24, no 12, p. 2173-2190Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose The majority of LCA studies begin with the drawing of a process flow diagram, which then needs to be translated manually into an LCA model. This study presents an initial image processing pipeline, implemented in an open-source software package, called lcopt-cv, which can be used to identify the boxes and links in a photograph of a hand-drawn process flow diagram and automatically create an LCA foreground model. Methods The computer vision pipeline consists of a total of 15 steps, beginning with loading the image file and conversion to greyscale. The background is equalised, then the foreground of the image is extracted from the background using thresholding. The lines are then dilated and closed to account for drawing errors. Contours in the image are detected and simplified, and rectangles (contours with four corners) are identified from the simplified contours as 'boxes'. Links between these boxes are identified using a flood-filling technique. Heuristic processing, based on knowledge of common practice in drawing of process flow diagrams, is then performed to more accurately identify the typology of the identified boxes and the direction of the links between them. Results and discussion The performance of the image processing pipeline was tested on four flow diagrams of increasing difficulty: one simple computer drawn diagram and three photographs of hand-drawn diagrams (a simple diagram, a complex diagram and a diagram with merged lines). A set of default values for the variables which define the pipeline was developed through trial and error. For the two simple flow charts, all boxes and links were identified using the default settings. The complex diagram required minor tweaks to the default values to detect all boxes and links. An 'unstacking' heuristic allowed the diagram with merged lines to be correctly processed. After some manual reclassification of link directions and process types, the diagrams were turned into LCA models and exported to open-source LCA software packages (lcopt and Brightway) to be verified and analysed. Conclusions This study demonstrates that it is possible to generate a fully functional LCA model from a picture of a flow chart. This has potentially important implications not only for LCA practitioners as a whole, but in particular for the teaching of LCA. Skipping the steep learning curve required by most LCA software packages allows teachers to focus on important LCA concepts, while participants maintain the benefits of experiential learning by doing a 'real' LCA.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGER HEIDELBERG , 2019. Vol. 24, no 12, p. 2173-2190
Keywords [en]
Process flow diagram, Computer vision, LCA foreground modelling, Open-source software
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-264848DOI: 10.1007/s11367-019-01636-4ISI: 000496324000005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85067046276OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-264848DiVA, id: diva2:1376943
Note

QC 20191210

Available from: 2019-12-10 Created: 2019-12-10 Last updated: 2019-12-10Bibliographically approved

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Joyce, Peter James

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