Life Cycle Assessment of Vehicular Electrification

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SAE Technical Papers
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TOMAKI, E.; POLICARPO, E.; ROVAI, F. Life Cycle Assessment of Vehicular Electrification. SAE Technical Papers, Dec. 2021.
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© 2021 SAE International. All rights reserved.Internal Combustion Engine vehicles (ICEV) have approximately 80% of their environmental impact during operation, 20% during manufacturing and disposal/recycling at the end of life. On the other hand, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) have a relatively lower impact during their use. However, BEVs produce proportionally higher equivalent-carbon dioxide (CO2e) emissions during vehicle manufacturing, which is adversely affected by the production of the battery. To account for the global environmental impact, a complete Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) needs to be done. In this work, data published by different sources and car manufacturers were used to predict the accumulated CO2e emissions along the vehicle life. In addition, a few scenarios with different assumptions were investigated. In particular, the impact of ICEVs and BEVs utilization in Brazil is lower than the world average due to the use of bioethanol as fuel and the low carbon intensity of the electricity. Most of the scenarios indicate that due to large environmental impact of the battery manufacturing, BEV CO2e emissions will break-even with the ICE vehicles only after several thousand km of usage. For some countries, the high carbon intensity of electricity will make the BEV a bad choice to mitigate climate change, as demonstrated by the higher life cycle CO2e emissions than those produced by ICEVs. For Brazil, the lower carbon intensity of the bioethanol combined with the existing fuel distribution infrastructure and the car plants indicate that moving from ICEV to BEV needs dedicated attention and may be attractive on high usage (taxi, shared cars etc.) which the higher initial CO2e impact, as well as cost, will be compensated along with car life).