Integrated environmental and economic assessment of current and future fuel cell vehicles
- 1.5k Downloads
Light-duty vehicles contribute considerably to global greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) may play a key role in mitigating these emissions without facing the same limitations in range and refueling time as battery electric vehicles (BEVs). In this study, we assess the environmental impacts and costs of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell system (FCS) for use in light-duty FCVs and integrate these results into a comparative evaluation between FCVs, BEVs, and internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs).
We conduct a detailed life cycle assessment (LCA) and cost assessment for the current state of the technology and two future scenarios for technological development. We compile a detailed and consistent inventory for the FCS by systematically disassembling and integrating information found in cost studies. For the vehicle-level comparison, we use models to ensure that vehicle size, performance, and fuel consumption are unbiased between vehicle types and consistent with the scenarios for technological development.
Results and discussion
Our results show that FCVs can decrease life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 50 % compared to gasoline ICEVs if hydrogen is produced from renewable electricity, thus exhibiting similar emission levels as BEVs that are charged with the same electricity mix. If hydrogen is produced by natural gas reforming, FCVs are found to offer no greenhouse gas reductions, along with higher impacts in several other environmental impact categories. A major contributor to these impacts is the FCS, in particular the platinum in the catalyst and the carbon fiber in the hydrogen tank. The large amount of carbon fiber used in the tank was also the reason why we found that FCVs may not become fully cost competitive with ICEVs or BEVs, even when substantial technological development and mass production of all components is assumed.
We conclude that FCVs only lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions than ICEVs if their fuel is sourced from renewable energy, as is the case with BEVs. FCVs are an attractive alternative to ICEVs in terms of vehicle performance criteria such as range and refueling time. However, the technological challenges associated with reducing other environmental impacts and costs of FCVs seem to be as large, if not larger, than those associated with the capacity and costs of batteries for BEVs—even when not taking into account the efforts required to build a hydrogen infrastructure network for road transportation.
KeywordsDrivetrain technology Environmental impacts Greenhouse gas emissions Life cycle assessment (LCA) Life cycle costing (LCC) Passenger vehicles PEM fuel cell
We thank Andrew Simons for assisting in the compilation of the fuel cell stack inventories, in particular with choosing ecoinvent processes for the processing stages of stack components; Marcel Hofer for contributions to the estimation of mass and cost numbers for the fuel cell system inventories; and Brian Cox for additional support for the fuel cell system inventories. The work was finalized within the SCCER Mobility (http://www.sccer-mobility.ch).
Compliance with ethical standards
This research was carried out as part of the research project “THELMA” (www.thelma-emobility.net) and received funding from Swisselectric Research, the Swiss Competence Centre for Energy and Mobility, and the Swiss Erdölvereinigung.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Bandivadekar A, Bodek K, Cheah L et al (2008) On the Road in 2035. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Barbir F (2013) PEM fuel cells: theory and practice. Elsevier, Academic PressGoogle Scholar
- Bernhart W, Riederle S, Yoon M (2013) Fuel Cells - A realistic alternative for zero emission? Roland Berger Strategy ConsultantsGoogle Scholar
- Butler J (2012) Platinum 2012 Interim Review. Johnson Matthey Public Limited Company, HertfordshireGoogle Scholar
- Cobb J (2014) 2016 Toyota Mirai FCV First Drive—Video. In: hybridcars.com. http://www.hybridcars.com/2016-toyota-mirai-first-drive-video/. Accessed 12 Feb 2015
- McKinsey & Company (2010) A portfolio of power-trains for Europe: a fact-based analysisGoogle Scholar
- De Haan P, Zah R (2013) Chancen und Risiken der Elektromobilität in der Schweiz. vdf Hochschulverlag AG an der ETH Zurich, ZurichGoogle Scholar
- Debe MK (2012) 2012 Annual Merit Review Advanced Cathode Catalysts and Supports for PEM Fuel Cells. 1–34Google Scholar
- Del Duce A, Egede P, Öhlschläger G et al. (2013) Guidelines for the LCA of electric vehiclesGoogle Scholar
- DOE (2008) Effects of a transition to a hydrogen economy on employment in the United States report to CongressGoogle Scholar
- Duleep G, Van Essen H, Kampman B, Grünig M (2011) Impacts of Electric Vehicles - Assessment of electric vehicle and battery technology. CE Delft, DelftGoogle Scholar
- Ecoinvent (2010) The ecoinvent database, data v2.2. http://www.ecoinvent.org
- EPA (2014) Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990–2012Google Scholar
- European Commission (2013) Fuel Cells & Hydrogen 2 Initiative: developing clean solutions for energy transport and storage. European UnionGoogle Scholar
- Federal Statistical Office (2014) Prices: data on energy price trends—long-time series from January 2000 to December 2014Google Scholar
- Giorgio Simbolotti (2007) IEA energy technology essentials: fuel cellsGoogle Scholar
- Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Huijbregts M et al. (2008) ReCiPe 2008 – A Life Cycle Impact Assessment Method Which Comprises Har-monised Category Indicators at the Midpoint and the Endpoint Level. Report I:CharacterisationGoogle Scholar
- Hill N, Brannigan C, Wynn D et al. (2011) The role of GHG emissions from infrastructure construction, vehicle manufacturing, and ELVs in overall transport sector emissions. Task 2 paper produced as part of a contract between European Commission Directorate-General Climate Action and AEA Technology plcGoogle Scholar
- ISO:14040 (2010) Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment –Principles and Framework. International Organization for StandardizationGoogle Scholar
- James BD (2012) Hydrogen Storage Cost Analysis, Preliminary Results. Strategic Analysis Inc.Google Scholar
- James BD, Kalinoski JA, Baum KN (2010) Mass Production Cost Estimation for Direct H2 PEM Fuel Cell Systems for Automotive Applications: 2010 Update. Directed Technologies Inc., Arlington, VAGoogle Scholar
- James BD, Kalinoski J, Baum K (2011) Manufacturing cost analysis of fuel cell systemsGoogle Scholar
- Kalhammer FR, Kopf BM, Swan DH, et al. (2007) Status and Prospects for Zero Emissions Vehicle Technology: Report of the ARB Independent Expert Panel 2007Google Scholar
- Kromer M, Heywood J (2007) Electric powertrains : opportunities and challenges in the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Law K (2011) Cost Analyses of Hydrogen Storage Materials and On- Board Systems Timeline Barriers Budget. TIAX LCC, Cupertino, CAGoogle Scholar
- Ligterink N, Kadijk G, Van Mensch P et al. (2013) Investigations and real world emission performance of Euro 6 light-duty vehicles. DelftGoogle Scholar
- Martin A (2010) Auto-Stack: project final report. Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW): StuttgartGoogle Scholar
- Masoni P, Zamagni A (2011) Guidance Document for performing LCAs on Fuel Cells and H2 Technologies. Project deliverable for Fuel cell and Hydrogen - Joint UndertakingGoogle Scholar
- NRC (2011) Assessment of fuel economy technologies for light-duty vehicles. National Academic Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Ohnsman A (2008) Honda to Deliver 200 Fuel-Cell Autos Through 2011 (Update2). BloombergGoogle Scholar
- Pehnt DM (2002) Ganzheitliche Bilanzierung von Brennstoffzellen in der Energie- und Verkehrstechnik. VDI-Verlag, Fortschrittsberichte Reihe 6 Nr. 476: DüsseldorfGoogle Scholar
- Pehnt M, Lamm A, Gasteiger H (2003) Life-cycle analysis of fuel cell system components Chapter 94 Life-cycle analysis of fuel cell system components. In: Vielstich W, Lamm A, Gasteiger HA (eds) Handbook of fuels cells—fundamentals, technology and applications. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
- PréConsultants (2011) SimaPro 7.3.3 Multi User. www.pre-sustainability.com/simapro
- Ramsden T, Steward D, Zuboy J (2009) Analyzing the Levelized Cost of Centralized and Distributed Hydrogen Production Using the H2A Production Model , Version 2 Analyzing the Levelized Cost of Centralized and Distributed Hydrogen Production Using the H2A Production Model , Version 2Google Scholar
- Schafer A, Heywood JB, Jacobi HD, Waitz IA (2009) Transportation in a Climate-Constrained World. The MIT PressGoogle Scholar
- Simons A, Bauer C (2011a) Life Cycle assessment of hydrogen use in passenger vehicles. International Advanced Mobility Forum (IAMF) Full PaperGoogle Scholar
- Simons A, Bauer C (2011b) Life cycle assessment of hydrogen production. In: Wokaun A, Wilhelm E (eds) Transition to Hydrogen: Pathways Toward Clean Transportation. New York, pp 13–57Google Scholar
- Sinha J (2010) FY 2010 Annual Progress Report. pp 672–679Google Scholar
- Sinha J, Lasher S, Yang Y, Kopf P (2008) Direct hydrogen PEMFC manufacturing cost estimation for automotive applications. TIAX LCC, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Sørensen B, Roskilde D (2000) Total life-cycle assessment of PEM fuel cell car. Roskilde University, Energy & Environment Group, RoskildeGoogle Scholar
- UNEP (2011) Recycling rates of metals: A status report. ParisGoogle Scholar
- Werhahn J (2008) Kosten von Brennstoffzellensystemen auf Massenbasis in Abhängigkeit von der Absatzmenge. Ph.D. Dissertation, Forschungszentrum Jülich, JülichGoogle Scholar
- Yazdanie M, Noembrini F, Dossetto L, Boulouchos K (2014) A comparative analysis of well-to-wheel primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions for the operation of alternative and conventional vehicles in Switzerland, considering various energy carrier production pathways. J Power Sources 249:333–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar