Life Cycle Assessment of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
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Generalised awareness on global warming has made humans rethink the energy and economic systems, looking for alternative means of doing things. The transport sector responsible for 23% of the greenhouse gases GHG emissions. Then, it is one of the sectors were reduction targets have been set, and, accordingly, alternative powertrains and fuels are under continuous research and development. Currently, there exists high interest from industry and governmental sectors on the development of fuel cell technologies for automotive applications as a mean of GHG emissions reduction.Consequently, we have built an inventory and performed a life cycle impact assessment of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell vehicle (PEMFCV), which uses hydrogen as fuel to generate electricity and then power the passenger car. Although the main emphasis is on climate change, eighteen impact categories were evaluated, and the environmental hot spots of this technology were unveiled.8.7 ton of CO2-eq is the resulting carbon footprint from the manufacturing of this type of vehicles, which means that they are relatively more impacting in production than EVs and ICEVs. Nevertheless, when their operation is introduced into the equation, they perform much better than electric and internal combustion ones, showing a reduction of almost 20% and 40% respectively. These numbers consider a vehicle lifetime 150,000 km and FCVs fuelled with hydrogen derived from natural gas. Larger reductions in climate change are achieved with hydrogen being produced from biomass, but with significant trade-offs in many other environmental burdens, particularly on agricultural land occupation and human toxicology. The results show that fuel cell vehicles are also of special interest in toxicological and eutrophying impacts, where they stand in a middle point between EVs and ICEVs. This means that the findings of this study could signify a breaking point in current policies, which are turning in favourability of EVs as a mean for GHG emission reductions, and, instead, incline the choices towards the promotion of FCVs.