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Dynamic Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) for Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Options

By: Murat KucuKvar, Nuri C. Onat, Burak Sen

Summarized Description:

The transportation sector accounts for more than 25% of the total U.S. emissions, and every vehicle fleet, including those of businesses and public organizations, contributes to this impact. To that end, alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) technologies present a great potential to improve the sustainability implications of transportation and logistics activities. Especially, in the long run, deploying alternative fuel vehicles in a vehicle fleet not only helps reduce GHG emissions and the social cost of these emissions but also helps businesses save costs through higher efficiency.

In this case study conducted by our experts (Onat et al., 2016a) for the U.S. Department of Transportation, integrating system dynamics simulation modeling technique into the LCSA framework, an uncertainty-embedded dynamic LCSA method was developed to unveil the potential sustainability implications of AFVs based on seven sustainability indicators.

Our study concluded that electric vehicles are expected, with a 90% confidence, to be the best alternative in the long-term for reducing human health impacts and air pollution from transportation, even though their impacts have the largest uncertainty mainly associated with the uncertain future of renewable energy.

Total annual emissions in tons of CO2 from a) Business-as-usual, b) Hybrid EV, c) Plug-in HEV, d) EV

Evident from the life cycle cost (LCC) estimates, electric vehicles are expected to have the lowest LCC in 2050. Our case study also revealed that, with a 90% confidence, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles are the most promising alternatives for long-term ownership cost reduction.

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