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Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen,


methanol and electric vehicles from well to wheel

Yusuf Bicer a,*, Ibrahim Dincer a,b


a
Clean Energy Research Laboratory (CERL), Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario
Institute of Technology, 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, Ontario, L1H 7K4, Canada
b
Mechanical Engineering Department, KFUPM, Dhahran, 31261, Saudi Arabia

article info abstract

Article history: A comparative life cycle assessment of methanol, hydrogen and electric vehicles is con-
Received 28 March 2016 ducted to investigate the impacts of alternative vehicles on the environment and human
Received in revised form health. For each case, the processes are analyzed from extraction of raw materials for
24 July 2016 hydrogen, methanol and electricity to disposal of the vehicles. Three different environ-
Accepted 28 July 2016 mental impact categories are selected in order to understand the diverse effects of vehi-
Available online xxx cles, namely: global warming, human toxicity and ozone layer depletion. As an alternative
fuel for internal combustion engines, hydrogen and methanol, are directly utilized in in-
Keywords: ternal combustion engine vehicles. The results of this study show that electric vehicles
Hydrogen yield higher human toxicity values due to the respective manufacturing and maintenance
Methanol stages. Since the energy density of hydrogen is quite higher than methanol, hydrogen
Electric vehicle driven vehicles result in a more environmentally-benign option with respect to global
Life cycle assessment warming and ozone layer depletion potentials.
Transportation 2016 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

vehicles. The productions of electricity and heat are heavily


Introduction dependent on coal which is carbon-intensive fossil fuel. The
electricity consumption in electric vehicles (EV), if the elec-
Since the industrial revolution energy consumption has been tricity comes from fossil fuel sources, will continue damaging
increasing throughout the world, where the transportation the environment and human health. Thus, there is a strong
has been one of the crucial sectors that contributes signifi- need to look for environmentally-benign electricity genera-
cantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and hence to local tion technologies and supply to EVs.
and global climate change concerns because of being about Hydrogen can be generated from various resources to
95% dependent on fossil fuels. It is noted that the trans- subsidize the development of alternative fueled vehicles and
portation sector consumes 61.2% of world oil reserves, subsi- can provide long-term option based on renewable resources.
dizing 28% of the total final energy supply [1] and 23% of CO2 At the same time, it can be used as a storage medium of
emissions in the world [2]. For this reason, further research is electricity from intermittent renewables such as solar and
conducted for sustainable transport systems to decrease the wind energy [3]. Since the enhancement potential of renew-
use of fossil fuels and promote the use of alternative fuels able energy technologies are most likely more than fossil
such as hydrogen and methanol together with electric fuels, it is important to realize the production capacity of

* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: yusuf.bicer@uoit.ca (Y. Bicer), ibrahim.dincer@uoit.ca (I. Dincer).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
0360-3199/ 2016 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
2 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1

alternative renewable fuels from an environmental point of separation from biomass gasification syngas. Suleman et al.
view. Haputhanthri et al. [4] studied the feasibility of devel- [14] analyzed the environmental impacts of steam methane
oping ammonia gasoline liquid fuel blends and the use of reforming a membrane, diaphragm and mercury cell based
ethanol as an emulsifier to enhance the solubility of ammonia electrolysis options for hydrogen production. According to
in gasoline. They used a small thermostated vapor liquid their results, hydrogen production using mercury cell bring
equilibrium high-pressure cell and resulted in that engine more ozone depletion values after SMR. Ahmadi et al. [15]
dynamometer shows ammonia rich fuels yield an improved presented an LCA study of hydrogen passenger cars where
torque and power output especially at higher engine speeds. hydrogen is produced via three alternative methods, namely
Zamfirescu and Dincer [5] reported a few potential opportu- electrolysis, thermochemical water splitting, and steam
nities and advantages of using ammonia as a sustainable fuel methane reforming, and compared with conventional gaso-
in transportation vehicles. They have compared ammonia line vehicles. Their results showed noteworthy decreases in
with other conventional fuels in different aspects. Addition- GHG and air contaminant emissions from all three hydrogen
ally, using ammonia both as a refrigerant and a fuel, they production systems in four different provinces of Canada,
calculated refrigeration effect with respect to refrigeration except for electrolysis in Alberta where most electricity is
power vs engine's power ending up with that ammonia is the produced from fossil fuels. Some researchers have examined
cheapest fuel on $/GJ basis. on-board fuel production resulting in significant and flexible
Methanol is ideal fuel for transporting largely because of advance in the development of efficient and ecologically
combustion efficiency and low cost. If burned, reformulated benign vehicles [5,16e18]. Li et al. [19] undertook a study for
gasoline produces many harmful and toxic by-products which well-to-wheel analyses of battery electrical vehicles and fuel
can be reduced or eliminated when exchanged with meth- cell vehicles using different sources of energy and technolo-
anol. The emissions of unburned carbon and carbon monox- gies in China. The results were compared based on the elec-
ide at a much lower fuel consumption for methanol and it can tricity and hydrogen source in terms of fossil energy use, total
significantly reduce emissions of NOx. Methanol also burns energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Rose et al. [20]
almost no solid particles - which can lead to breathing prob- performed an LCA for diesel and CNG fueled heavy-duty
lems such as asthma. refuse collection vehicles. The results implied that CNG
The operation of life cycle assessment is principally used vehicle is preferable in terms of decreased climate change
as a cradle to grave analysis method to examine environ- impact and having lower cost compared to conventional
mental impacts of a system or process or product. A life cycle diesel vehicle. Archsmith et al. [21] investigated the electricity
is the set of phases of a product or service system, from the fuel source and performance under real-world conditions are
extraction of natural resources to last removal. A compre- the determinants of life cycle GHG emissions. They presented
hensive LCA comprises inventory, impact, and improvement an integrated model of life cycle emissions for both the
studies that quantity material and energy flows, assess the manufacture and use of ICEs and EVs which additionally takes
environmental impacts, and suggest improvement options of into account the impacts of climate conditions on vehicle ef-
the processes. Several studies have been conducted in the ficiency and non-fossil power sources used for marginal
literature assessing the environmental and combustion per- electricity. Zhao and Tatari [22] performed an economic based
formance of alternative transportation methods through the hybrid LCA to evaluate the potential GHG emissions savings
use of LCA [6e9]. Granovskii et al. [10] studied life cycle from the use of the electric vehicle as well as the possible
assessment of hydrogen and gasoline vehicles by containing emission impacts caused by battery degradation.
fuel production and utilization in vehicles powered by fuel In this study, both fuel and vehicle cycles for each of the
cells and internal combustion engines. They evaluated and options of hydrogen, electric and methanol driven vehicles are
compared the efficiencies and environmental impacts by comparatively evaluated via LCA methodology. In terms of
resulting that wind electrolysis based hydrogen and PEM fuel environmental impact categories, human toxicity, global
cell vehicle is the most environmentally benign method. warming and stratospheric ozone depletion are considered.
Hacatoglu et al. [11] reported life cycle assessment of a The selected methanol and hydrogen vehicles operate with
nuclear-based copper-chlorine hydrogen generation method, internal combustion engine while, electric cars operate with
containing approximations of fossil fuel energy use and pure electricity from grid. In the scope of this study, a
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They compared also other comprehensive environmental impact assessment for various
paths indicating that the performance of the method is similar fueled vehicles is carried out using LCA methodology, the fuel
to hydrogen produced by wind-based water electrolysis. and vehicle cycle of selected vehicles are comparatively
Ma et al. [12] defined the key factors affecting the LCA evaluated and uncertainty analyses for LCA results are iden-
studies of transportation vehicles. They implied that uncer- tified in order to determine the reliability of the results.
tainty, vehicle yearly mileage, driving pattern and material
recycling rate have important impacts on the quality of the
LCA results. Bartolozzi et al. [13] carried out LCA for vehicles Analysis and assessment
equipped with either fuel cell or internal combustion engine
to evaluate and compare the environmental impacts of the The life cycle characteristics of vehicle technologies can be
alternative scenarios for various hydrogen production options divided into two main steps, namely, fuel cycle and vehicle
ranging from biomass to hydropower. They chose the cycle. The fuel cycle considers processes for the production of
pathway of renewable wind and biomass energy sources for raw materials and fuel consumption of the vehicle. This phase
hydrogen production either by electrolysis or direct takes into account the associated energy intake and extracted

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1 3

gas emissions in mining. The emissions related to energy use Uncertainty analysis
and refueling of transport include the supply of fuel. A notable
part of the analysis of the life cycle is collecting reliable data. In the Monte Carlo analysis for the take-back system, the
Argonne National Laboratory has developed a full life cycle absolute uncertainty needs to be calculated. In the Monte
model so-called GREET (greenhouse gases and regulated Carlo method, the processer proceeds a random variable for
emissions and energy delivery) which is useful to evaluate each value within the uncertainty limits stated and recalcu-
various vehicle and fuel combinations, based on the total fuel lates the results. The outcome is stored and the calculation is
cycle or cycle of the vehicle [23]. The functional unit can be redone by compelling diverse samples within the uncertainty
arranged but in the current study person km is taken as the limit, and also this result is stored. After the process is
base unit. In this assessment, the emissions during the oper- repeated 1000 times, 1000 different answers are found and the
ation of vehicles are taken from GREET 2015. Once these answers yield an uncertainty distribution. Mean is the average
operation data are obtained, they are used in SimaPro LCA tool score of all results. It is the most useful parameter to use when
for full life cycle processes. Therefore, the analyses constitute we want to report the best guess value. Median value is the
from well to wheel (WTW) which contain the life cycle of middle value which is useful if outliers are significantly
equipment production, manufacturing, maintenance and influencing the mean value. Standard error of mean is the stop
infrastructure at the end of a vehicle's life. Ecoinvent LCA measure that is the quantity by which the final calculation
database v2.2 is utilized as data sources which is in the influenced the mean. CV (coefficient of variability) is the ratio
background of SimaPro software [24]. between the standard deviation and the mean which is a
Life cycle analysis can be conducted at three different useful parameter if sorting of data in a table by the relative
levels: product, service, or economy. In the current study, a magnitude of the uncertainty is required. In order to capture
process based LCA is conducted. In a process-based LCA, one the characteristic variability of data in the process or pro-
lists the inputs as materials and energy sources and the out- duction systems, Monte Carlo analysis can be used embedded
puts as emissions and wastes to the environment for a given in SimaPro software. In the current study, uncertainty ana-
step in producing a product. A few standards from the Inter- lyses for the selected environmental impact categories are
national Organization for Standards (ISO) govern the exact carried out.
requirements necessary to manage LCA studies. There are
several assessment methods developed over the time to
classify and characterize the environmental effects of the Description of the processes
system however in the current study, CML 2001 method is
utilized. It defines the process to be realized for studying LCA On average, lifetime performance of a passenger car is
project agreeing to the ISO standards. In the impact assess- assumed to be 239,000 person km. Generally, the average uti-
ment phase of LCA, a group of impact classes and the char- lization factor is expected to be 1.59e1.6 passengers per car.
acterization methods and factors for a wide list of materials Henceforth, the lifetime of the selected vehicles is approxi-
are suggested. For applying the structures in the ecoinvent life mately 150,000 km. The functional unit in the life cycle
cycle inventory database, it is essential to allocate the char- assessment of the vehicles is chosen as the driving range of
acterization factors to the fundamental source streams and 1 km traveled. The results of GHG emissions and other envi-
pollutant streams described in the database. The categories ronmental impact categories for each vehicle type are
considered in this study are briefly described in the following expressed per km distance. Here, the life cycle assessment
sections: comprises the following life cycle phases, as illustrated in Fig. 1:
(i) manufacturing of the vehicle, (ii) operation of the vehicle, (iii)
 Human Toxicity: Toxic substances on the human envi- maintenance of the vehicle, (iv) disposal of the vehicle.
ronment are the main concerns for this category. 1,4-
dichlorobenzene equivalents/kg emissions is used to ex- Vehicle manufacturing and maintenance
press each toxic substance. Reliant on the material, the
geographical scale varies between local and global indica- The inventory contains processes of energy, water and ma-
tor. terial usage in passenger car manufacturing. Rail and road
 Global Warming: The greenhouse gases to air are related transport of materials is accounted for. The groundwork of
with the climate change. Adverse effects upon ecosystem plant is involved together with the issues such as land use,
health, human health and material welfare can result from building, road and parking structure. The material consump-
climate change. A kg carbon dioxide/kg emission is used to tion reflect a modern vehicle. The data for vehicle production
express the Global Warming Potential for time horizon 500 are representative for manufacturing sites with an environ-
years (GWP500). It has a global scale. mental management system. Thus, the resulting data may be
 Stratospheric Ozone depletion: For the reason of strato- an underestimation of environmental impacts of an average
spheric ozone depletion, a superior portion of UV-B radia- vehicle fleet. The electricity comes from a mixture of UCTE
tion spreads the earth surface. This may yield damaging (Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity)
impacts on human and animal health, terrestrial and countries. The UCTE is the association of transmission system
aquatic ecosystems, bioechemical cycles and on sub- operators in continental Europe in which about 450 million
stances. Ozone depletion potential of several gasses are people are supplied electricity. In the electricity usage process,
specified in kg CFC-11 equivalent/kg emission where the electricity production in UCTE, the transmission network and
time span is infinity. direct SF6-emissions to air are included. The conversion of

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
4 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1

Energy

produc on transmission consump on

Vehicle Manufacturing
Vehicle Operaon
Vehicle Disposal

Vehicle Maintenance

Fig. 1 e Scope of LCA analyses including fuel and vehicle cycles in this study.

high-medium voltage as well as the transmission of electricity Lithium ion batteries are recycled for numerous aims. The
at medium voltage are taken into account. most noticeable one is the retrieval of valued materials and to
The operation of EV varies from the conventional vehicles follow to ecological laws. Numerous methods are present for
in some characteristics as the first difference is the energy recycling lithium ion batteries with diverse environmental
source for operation where electricity is utilized despite of consequences. Usually, battery recycling procedures can be
petrol or diesel. Henceforth, there are no tail-pipe emissions. It expressed in three main categories: mechanical, pyrometal-
is therefore assumed that emissions are restricted to tire and lurgical and hydrometallurgical processes. Hydrometallurgi-
brake wear and abrasion from the surface of road. For electric cal processes are evaluated to require considerably lesser
vehicles, the required amount of steel is lower compared to energy desires compared to pyrometallurgical processes. In
conventional cars since there is no ICE in the car. Production of this study, hydrometallurgical process for disposal of batteries
electric motor and lithium ion batteries are included in EVs. are selected with an average efficiency of 57.5% and energy
Currently available EV batteries are in the range of 100 kg and use of 140 kWh/tonne [27]. The inventory data for the disposal
400 kg based on vehicle size and range [25]. The average masses of batteries are taken from Ref. [27]. For ammonia and
of electric motor for and lithium ion battery are assumed to be hydrogen fueled vehicles, the required amount of steel and
104 kg and 312 kg, respectively for this study [26]. The inventory electrical energy is a little higher than other cars because of
data for battery production and disposal is utilized from GREET storage tank infrastructure.
model and Ref. [27]. The inventory for maintenance of vehicles
contains resources used for alteration parts and energy con- Vehicle operation
sumption of garages. Rail and road transportation of supplies is
accounted for. For EVs, during the lifetime of the car, one The operation process of the vehicles is one of the key sections
battery change is assumed. Henceforth, lithium ion battery of life cycle analyses. In this phase, fuel consumption is
replacement and disposal processes are also taken into ac- involved. Direct airborne emissions of gaseous materials, par-
count in the maintenance phase. ticulate matters and heavy metals are accounted for. Particu-
late emissions cover exhaust- and abrasions emissions.
Vehicle disposal Hydrocarbon emissions contain evaporation. Heavy metal
emissions to soil and water produced by tire abrasion are
The inventory of vehicle disposal contains disposal processes accounted for. The values are based on operation of an average
for bulk materials. For the disposal of tires, a cut off allocation vehicle. The specific conditions for the selected vehicles are
is applied. In addition, the transportation of tires to the presented herein. In the hydrogen vehicle study: Hydrogen is
cement works is taken into account. For the disposal of steel, produced using underground coal gasification (UCG). Under-
aluminum, copper and tires, a cut off allocation is applied. ground coal gasification is a promising option for the upcoming
Waste specific water together with air emissions from incin- use of un-worked coal. Despite mining coal area, UCG may
eration and supplementary supply depletion for flue gas eventually create unreached coal reserves available. Since UCG
scrubbing are accounted for. Short term releases to river water leaves the ash behind in the cavity, it can be evaluated as a
and long term emissions to ground water from slag section clean coal utilization. After the gasification of coal, syngas
and remaining material landfill are considered with process composes with a combination of gas species such as hydrogen
energy loads for municipal waste incineration plant (MSWI). (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), water vapor (H2O), and carbon
The processes included in the disposal of a vehicle include; (i) dioxide (CO2) in addition to nitrogen (N2) in the air. Hydrogen
disposal of plastics in mixture with 15.3% water to municipal gas is separated using pressure swing absorption process. The
incineration (65 kg), (ii) disposal of glass to municipal incin- energy supply of hydrogen production comes from coal fired
eration (30.1 kg), (iii) disposal of emulsion paint leftovers to power plants since UCG process is utilized.
HWI (100 kg), and (iv) disposal of zinc in car shredder remains For electric vehicles: Production and transmission of elec-
to MSWI (5.89 kg). tricity as UCTE Mix is considered. Electricity consumption in

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1 5

Table 1 e Fuel and energy requirements per km for the selected vehicles.
Vehicle type Fuel/Supply Fuel/Energy consumption Energy requirement
Methanol Vehicle M90 Methanol (90%) 0.1180535 kg/km 2635.7422 kJ/km
Gasoline (10%) 0.0060664 kg/km
Hydrogen Vehicle Hydrogen 0.0195508 kg/km 2350.2034 kJ/km
Electric Vehicle Electricity 0.2167432 kWh/km 780.7007 kJ/km

Steam methane Methanol


Natural gas Distillation Methanol
reforming synthesis

Raw material extraction


and processing Vehicle
Maintenance

Conventional Use
and
non-conventional Power plant Transmission Electricity
resources

Raw material extraction


and processing

Vehicle Manufacturing

Vehicle Disposal

Underground Hydrogen
coal gasification Syngas production plant Hydrogen

Injector Well Production


Well

Fig. 2 e Fuel production processes and vehicle manufacturing.

the vehicle is included. Particulate emissions comprise and electric vehicles given in Table 1 which are obtained from
exhaust and abrasions emissions. Heavy metal emissions to GREET 2015. The obtained results are given in terms of unit
soil and water caused by tire abrasion are accounted for. In the km.
electricity usage process, electricity production mix, the The global warming potentials of the selected vehicles are
transmission network and direct SF6-emissions to air are comparatively shown in Fig. 3. The lowest GHG emissions are
included. observed in hydrogen vehicle corresponding to 0.057 kg CO2
Methanol vehicle fuel consists of 90% methanol and 10% eq/km. The highest global warming potential is obtained for
gasoline which is a fuel blend. The fuel blending ratio is taken methanol vehicle with a value of 0.30 kg CO2 eq/km. EVs yield
from GREET 2015 model [23]. The raw materials, processing quite lower GHG emissions compared to methanol vehicles
energy, estimate on catalyst use, and emissions to air and but they are still higher than hydrogen vehicle because of
water from process, plant infrastructure are included. The electricity production mix process. If electricity production
process describes the production of methanol from natural can be realized by renewable sources, total emissions would
gas via steam reforming process to obtain syngas for the decrease for EVs.
production of methanol. There is no CO2 use and hydrogen is
assumed as burned in the furnace. The raw materials, average 0.35

transportation, emissions to air from tank storage, estimation


0.3
for storage infrastructure are included for the distribution part
Global warming (kg CO2 eq/km)

where 40% of the methanol is assumed to be transported from 0.25


overseas. The fuel and energy consumption rates of the ve-
0.2
hicles are presented in Table 1. The fuel production processes
including the vehicle manufacturing for three different sce- 0.15
narios are shown in Fig. 2.
0.1

0.05
Results and discussion
0
Hydrogen Vehicle Electric Vehicle Methanol Vehicle
The environmental impacts of hydrogen, methanol and elec-
tric vehicles are evaluated using SimaPro LCA software based Fig. 3 e Life cycle comparison of global warming potentials
on the energy consumption and GHG emissions of ICE vehicles of selected vehicles per km travel.

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
6 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1

Hydrogen from UCG with CCS

Pig iron, at plant

29% Hydrogen Vehicle - Opera on -


UCG
Natural gas, burned in industrial
furnace >100kW

53% Lignite, burned in power plant

2%
Polyethylene, HDPE, granulate, at
2% plant
2% Hard coal, burned in power plant
3%
5%
4% Remaining processes

Fig. 4 e Contributions of various processes to global


warming potential of hydrogen vehicle. Fig. 6 e Life cycle comparison of human toxicity values of
selected vehicles per km traveled.

For hydrogen vehicle, the contribution of various processes Copper, primary, at refinery
12%
to global warming potential is illustrated in Fig. 4. The oper-
Disposal, sulfidic tailings, o-site
ation of hydrogen vehicle is responsible only 4% of total GHG 2%
2%
emissions while production of hydrogen using UCG is the Disposal, spoil from lignite mining,
4% in surface landfill
highest contributor with 53% share, respectively. On-board
4% Aluminium, primary, liquid, at plant
storage of hydrogen requires high resistant and strength 47%
tanks which leads to higher steel and process requirement. 7% Anode, aluminium electrolysis
Henceforth, non-operation part of hydrogen vehicle consti-
Ferrochromium, high-carbon, 68%
tute about 22% and 44% of overall hydrogen vehicle life cycle Cr, at plant
for abiotic depletion and global warming potential. In Disposal, uranium tailings, non-
radioac ve emissions
contrast, as shown in Fig. 5, the operation of methanol vehicle
22% Remaining processes
represents 92.6% of overall global warming impact because of
higher CO2 emissions during utilization. Fig. 6 shows the
comparison of human toxicity values in terms of kg 1,4-DB eq Fig. 7 e Contributions of various processes to human
per travel km. EVs yield highest human toxicity values cor- toxicity of electric vehicle.
responding to 0.39 1,4-DB eq/km. Compared to other vehicles,
they yield quite higher values because of mainly production
and disposal of batteries as shown in Fig. 7. Copper production
vehicle has the maximum ozone depletion potential since it is
and disposal of sulfidic tailings have shares of 47% and 22%,
produced by fossil based methods which have enormous
respectively. The shares of main processes for human toxicity
amount of carbon substance. The values are equal to
category of EV are shown in Fig. 8.
2.14  10 8 kg CFC-11 eq. and 8.63  10 9 kg CFC-11 eq per km
The depletion of ozone layer is one of the main contribu-
for methanol and electric vehicles, respectively. The highest
tors to climate change in the world. As seen in Fig. 9, methanol
contributions are from transportation of natural gas via

1p
Methanol Vehicle

100%

4.17E-6 p 1 personkm 4.17E-6 p


Vehicle Manufacturing Methanol Vehicle - Maintenance, passenger
Operation car/RER/I U

6.31% 92.6% 1.05%

Fig. 5 e Shares of main processes for global warming potential of methanol vehicle.

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1 7

1p
Electric Vehicle

100%

4.17E-6 p 1 personkm 4.17E-6 p


Electric Vehicle Electric Vehicle - Electric Vehicle -
Manufacturing Operation - UCTE Maintenance

38.2% 8.7% 53.1%

Fig. 8 e The shares of main processes for human toxicity of electric vehicles.

pipelines corresponding more than 70% and production of human toxicity and ozone layer depletion categories, respec-
crude oil with 10% as shown in Fig. 10. The contributions of tively. Based on the uncertainty analyses results, it is seen
fundamental processes to ozone layer depletion value are that global warming potential values have the lowest uncer-
illustrated in Fig. 11 for hydrogen vehicle. Production of tainty range compared to others as the coefficient of variation
vehicle is responsible for about 72.6% of the total environ- value is 3.55% for hydrogen vehicle which is stated in Table 3.
mental impact for this category. For an electric vehicle, the The maximum coefficient of variance is calculated for the
sub-process contributions are accordingly illustrated in Fig. 12 human toxicity category in electric vehicle corresponding to
where transportation of natural gas via pipelines is the main 47.70% as shown in Table 4. The uncertainty values of human
contributor. toxicity and ozone layer depletion potential categories are
The Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis is performed with higher compared to global warming which cause higher CV
1000 runs and 95% interval of confidence. The standard devi- values. This is due to the accuracy of the available inventory
ation, coefficient of performance and standard mean of error data in SimaPro LCA database for some specific materials or
values are tabulated in Tables 2e4. The mean standard errors processes. The comparative simulation results for hydrogen
for the hydrogen vehicle are 0.00113, 0.00773 and 0.0096 for and electric vehicles are shown in Fig. 13. The green bars on
global warming, human toxicity and ozone layer depletion the left represent the number of times electric vehicle had a
categories, respectively. The mean standard errors for the lower environmental impact than hydrogen vehicle for given
methanol vehicle are 0.00112, 0.00674 and 0.00756 for global categories. For instance, it shows that in 100% of the cases the
warming, human toxicity and ozone layer depletion cate- global warming, human toxicity and ozone layer depletion
gories, respectively. The mean standard errors for the electric values are lower for hydrogen vehicle. In about 70% of the
vehicle are 0.00419, 0.0151 and 0.00666 for global warming, cases, the photochemical oxidation value is lower for electric
vehicles.
4.00E-08
The comparative simulation results for hydrogen and
methanol vehicle are presented in Fig. 14. For 100% of the
cases the global warming, human toxicity and ozone layer
Ozone layer deple on steady state (kg CFC-11 eq/km)

3.50E-08

3.00E-08

2.50E-08

2.00E-08

1.50E-08

1.00E-08

5.00E-09

0.00E+00
Methanol Vehicle Electric Vehicle Hydrogen Vehicle

Fig. 9 e Life cycle comparison of ozone layer depletion Fig. 10 e Contributions of various processes to ozone layer
potentials of selected vehicles per km traveled. depletion of methanol vehicle.

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
8 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1

1p
Hydrogen Vehicle UCG

100%

4.17E-6 p 1 personkm 4.17E-6 p


Hydrogen Vehicle Hydrogen Vehicle - Maintenance, passenger
Manufacturing Operation - UCG car/RER/I U

72.6% 4.33% 23%

Fig. 11 e Shares of main processes for ozone layer depletion of hydrogen vehicles.

depletion values are lower for hydrogen vehicle. There is only


a small portion of methanol vehicle which has advantages
over the hydrogen vehicle for terrestrial ecotoxicity with a
value of 2.8%.
In Fig. 15, the blue dot bars on the left represent the com-
parison of hydrogen and methanol vehicle for different envi-
ronmental categories. According to the results, the methanol
vehicle is 100% more environmentally benign in terms of
acidification, eutrophication and human toxicity categories.
However, hydrogen vehicle yield the cleanest options for
abiotic depletion, ozone layer and global warming potential
values.
Fig. 12 e Contributions of various processes to ozone layer
depletion of electric vehicle.

Table 2 e Monte Carlo uncertainty results of methanol vehicle.


Impact category Unit Mean Median SD CV (coefficient of variation) Std. err. of mean
Global warming 500a kg CO2 eq 0.294 0.293 0.0105 3.58% 0.00113
Human toxicity 500a kg 1,4-DB eq 0.0378 0.0359 0.00923 24.40% 0.00773
Ozone layer depletion 40a kg CFC-11 eq 2.78E-08 2.63E-08 8.46E-09 30.40% 0.0096

Table 3 e Monte Carlo uncertainty results of hydrogen vehicle.


Impact category Unit Mean Median SD CV (coefficient of variation) Std. err. of mean
Global warming 500a kg CO2 eq 0.0548 0.0547 0.00194 3.55% 0.00112
Human toxicity 500a kg 1,4-DB eq 0.025 0.0243 0.00532 21.30% 0.00674
Ozone layer depletion 40a kg CFC-11 eq 1.55E-09 1.48E-09 3.71E-10 23.90% 0.00756

Table 4 e Monte Carlo uncertainty results of electric vehicle.


Impact category Unit Mean Median SD CV (coefficient of variation) Std. err. of mean
Global warming 500a kg CO2 eq 0.159 0.157 0.0211 13.30% 0.00419
Human toxicity 500a kg 1,4-DB eq 0.254 0.222 0.121 47.70% 0.0151
Ozone layer depletion 40a kg CFC-11 eq 8.70E-09 8.46E-09 1.83E-09 21.10% 0.00666

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1 9

-57 Max. ozone incremental reac vity 43.3

-50 Max. incremental reac vity 50.4

-70 Photochemical oxida on (low NOx) 30.4

Photochemical oxida on -2 97.9

Human toxicity infinite 0 100

Ozone layer deple on steady state 0 100

Upper limit of net global warming 0 100

-80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60 80 100


%

A<B A >= B

Fig. 13 e Monte-Carlo simulation results of LCA comparison between hydrogen and electric vehicle (A: Electric vehicle, B:
Hydrogen vehicle).

-99 Photochemical oxida on (low NOx) 0.9

-99 Marine sediment ecotox. 500a 1.4

-97 Terrestrial ecotoxicity 500a 2.8

-99 Marine aqua c ecotox. 100a 0.8

-100 Human toxicity infinite 0

-100 Ozone layer deple on steady state 0

-100 Upper limit of net global warming 0

-100 -95 -90 -85 -80 -75 -70 -65 -60 -55 -50 -45 -40 -35 -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 5
%

A<B A >= B

Fig. 14 e Monte-Carlo simulation results of LCA comparison between hydrogen and methanol vehicle (A: Hydrogen vehicle,
B: Methanol vehicle).

uncertainty analyses are conducted using Monte Carlo sta-


Conclusions tistical approach. The results obtained from this study indi-
cate that hydrogen vehicle is the most environmentally
In this study, a comparative environmental impact assess- benign one in all environmental impact categories compared
ment of alternative vehicles, including hydrogen, methanol to methanol and electric vehicles. Even though electric vehi-
and electric vehicles, is undertaken to analyze and evaluate cles are considered with no direct CO2 emission during oper-
the end results of their utilization. In this regard, the life cycle ation, in the process of electricity and battery production and
analyses of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles are disposal of batteries, they end up with some concerns which
conducted using ozone layer depletion, global warming po- damage the environment in terms of human toxicity, GHG
tential and human toxicity indicators. The analyses are car- emissions and ozone layer depletion. Since methanol pro-
ried out from production of vehicles to disposal process duction is dependent primarily on natural gas, it has highest
containing maintenance and operation of the vehicles. In global warming potential compared to other vehicles. The
order to determine the reliability of the results, the production process of electricity plays an important role on

Please cite this article in press as: Bicer Y, Dincer I, Comparative life cycle assessment of hydrogen, methanol and electric vehicles from
well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252
10 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 6 ) 1 e1 1

-100 Photochemical oxida on (low NOx) 0

-97 Photochemical oxida on 2.9

Human toxicity infinite 0 100

-100 Ozone layer deple on steady state 0

-100 Upper limit of net global warming 0

Eutrophica on 0 100

Acidifica on 0 100

-100 Abio c deple on 0

-100 -80 -60 -40 -20 20 40 60 80 100


%

A<B A >= B

Fig. 15 e Monte-Carlo simulation results of characterized LCA comparison between electric and methanol vehicle (A:
Hydrogen vehicle, B: Methanol vehicle).

overall environmental impact of electric vehicles and also on references


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well to wheel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.07.252