Comparative Assessment of Fuel Cell cars

Posted by Nour Oueidat
Contact: 
Malcom A.Weiss, John B. Heywood, Andreas Schafer, & Vinod K.Natarajan
Type: 
Full LCA available on the web
Comparative: 
yes
Publication year: 
2003
Language: 
English
Code: 
Vehicles/Fuels
Product: 
Fuel cell vehcles
Quality and sources
Is the study a: 
Detailed LCA
Was a critical review performed?: 
Yes
Is the study compliant with ISO 14044?: 
No
Sponsor name(s): 
Massachussets Institute of Technology
Sponsor type: 
University
Practitioner(s): 
Malcom A.Weiss
Practitioner(s): 
John B. Heywood
Practitioner(s): 
Andreas Schafer
Practitioner(s): 
Vinod K.Natarajan
Practitioner(s) type: 
University
Summary
Functional unit: 
Both vehicles compares (FC and ICE) have the characteristics of a US mid-size family sedan
Goal and scope of the summary: 
Goal: determine how competitive fuel cell systems fueled would be with internal combustion engine vehicles if advances in FC technology were closer than previously assumed to the higher targets forseen by some FC advocates. Scope: potential power of new propulsion technology for light duty vehicles

The results show that, considering the uncertainty of long-rang predictions and judging solely by lowest life-cycle energy use and GHG emissions, there is no current basis for preferring either FC or ICE hybrid power plants for mid-size automobiles over the next 20 years or so. 

However, FC vehicles will be quieter and will have lower non GHG-tailpipe emissions. but will be more expensive and will require new infrastructures for vehicle manufacturing and maintenance and for producing hydrogen fuel. This makes rapid acceptance and market penetration more difficult.

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