Comparative streamlined LCA of Internal Combustion and Electric drivetrains
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Conventionally the use phase of a road vehicle contributes to more than 70% of the total environmental impact in terms of energy use or emissions of greenhouse gases. This figure is no longer valid concerning electric vehicles and a shift to other life cycle stages and impacts is expected and should be revaluated. The goal of this study is to assess the environmental performance of two prototype vehicle drivetrains; an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, from a life cycle perspective. The assessment is performed in a qualitative manner using the Environmentally Responsible Product Assessment (ERPA) matrix. Having a similar car body construction, the two vehicles provided excellent opportunities to highlight the significance of material differences in their drivetrains. The internal combustion vehicle demonstrated a better environmental performance in three out of five lifecycle stages (pre-manufacture, product manufacture, and disposal). In all of these stages the impact of the electric vehicle is determined by the burden of the materials needed for this technology such as rare earth elements (REE) and the lack of recycling possibilities. The study demonstrated a need to close the material cycle when it comes to Critical Raw Materials (CRM) such as REE which can only be achieved when the technology but also the incentives for material recovery are provided i.e. by promoting the development of cost efficient recycling technologies. Moreover, the need for relevant metrics and assessment indicators is demonstrated in order to be able to fairly compare the two technologies.
Environmentally Responsible Product Assessment; Internal combustion engine vehicle; Electric vehicle; Critical Raw materials; Rare earth elements; Drivetrain
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-192534OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-192534DiVA: diva2:970564
QC 201609162016-09-142016-09-142016-09-16Bibliographically approved