Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data conversion is a problematic task in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). LCI data are available in various structure and file formats in LCA software packages. Import and export of LCI will not be a successful task with most of the cases. When importing to an LCA software, a mapping file is needed in addition to the data to be imported. Otherwise, the process might be performed manually (manual insertion of flows, quantities, etc.). The several LCI data providers make their data available in MS-Excel file format which is very helpful for manual calculations with MS-Excel, but it is hard to import MS-Excel based data to LCA software packages. If the LCI data is prepared in ecoSpold (. XML) or ILCD file format, then the import processes would be much easier. However, if the LCI data are few, then it might be a much simpler and time-saving method if the data are inserted manually to the LCA software. If the LCI data contain large inventories, then the task would be complicated if no mapping files of the data are available to the end-user.
Hence far, I found that the best path to import LCI data or to perform conversion from one file format to another is by using the format converter tool offered by OpenLCA (http://www.openlca.org/format-converter). This handy tool can convert the LCI data file format from one format to another including ecoSpold 1 and 2; ILCD; and CSV. Another way is by using the OpenLCA software itself, which offers data conversion from and to those file formats in addition to MS-Excel (. xlsx). The user can import the data first to OpenLCA and then export it to the desired file format. Once imported, the user can also explore the imported data in the OpenLCA environment and perform the desired LCA calculations. The open source OpenLCA can be downloaded from http://www.openlca.org/download.
One other way is to use the ecoSpold Access for Excel 2003. Which allows data export in MS-Excel environment for a prepared XML data in an Excel file. The data can be exported to ecoSpold or MS-Excel file formats. The tool works only with MS-Excel 2003 and Windows XP, Vista, and 7 environments only. It also requires Microsoft Core XML Services (MSXML) 6.0 to be installed beforehand which is not available for Windows 8 and 10. The MSXML 6.0 can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. Once installed, you can download and install the ecoSpold Access for Excel 2003 from the ecoinvent center. On the ecoinvent center’s website, you can also download the documentations on how to use the tool. Ultimately, knowledge of the XML language can facilitate a lot to prepare your LCI data in an ecoSpold format and to perform conversion tasks.
One other way to deal with different LCI data sources is to use the free OpenLCA software itself as an LCA modeling environment. Many LCI databases and datasets from various database providers are prepared for the use in OpenLCA software. Some of them are free; others are free for academic use only, others are paid databases including the ecoinvent database (please refer to each database or dataset license on the OpenLCA Nexus website (https://nexus.openlca.org). The available free and paid LCI data on the OpenLCA Nexus website (https://nexus.openlca.org/databases) include ecoinvent, Agribalyse, soca, NEEDS, PSILCA, ESU World Food, ELCD, LC-Inventories.ch (extensions of the ecoinvent database), ProBas, USDA, and Social Hotspots. Likewise, the LCIA methods can be downloaded for the OpenLCA software in its native file format. On the OpenLCA Nexus website, you can look for a specific LCI process from within a specific database or a country, process type, etc. with a description of each process.