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Title: Implications of sustainability for the United States light-duty transportation sector

Abstract

This article reviews existing literature to assess the consensus of the scientific and engineering communities concerning the potential for the United States’ light-duty transportation sector to meet a goal of 80% reduction in vehicle emissions and examine what it will take to meet this target. Climate change is a problem that must be solved. The primary cause of this problem is burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. A dramatic reduction in carbon emissions must happen soon, and a significant fraction of this reduction must come from the transportation sector. This paper reviews existing literature to assess the consensus of the scientific and engineering communities concerning the potential for the United States' light-duty transportation sector to meet a goal of 80% reduction in vehicle emissions and examine what it will take to meet this target. It is unlikely that reducing energy consumption in just vehicles with gasoline-based internal combustion drivetrains will be sufficient to meet GHG emission-reduction targets. This paper explores what additional benefits are possible through the adoption of alternative energy sources, looking at three possible on-vehicle energy carriers: carbon-based fuels, hydrogen, and batteries.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States). Transportation and Hydrogen System Center
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
OSTI Identifier:
1293802
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5400-65669
Journal ID: ISSN 2329-2229
Grant/Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
MRS Energy & Sustainability
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 2329-2229
Publisher:
Materials Research Society - Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; transportation; light-duty; vehicle emissions; carbon-based fuels; hydrogen; batteries

Citation Formats

Gearhart, Chris. Implications of sustainability for the United States light-duty transportation sector. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1557/mre.2016.8.
Gearhart, Chris. Implications of sustainability for the United States light-duty transportation sector. United States. doi:10.1557/mre.2016.8.
Gearhart, Chris. Mon . "Implications of sustainability for the United States light-duty transportation sector". United States. doi:10.1557/mre.2016.8. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1293802.
@article{osti_1293802,
title = {Implications of sustainability for the United States light-duty transportation sector},
author = {Gearhart, Chris},
abstractNote = {This article reviews existing literature to assess the consensus of the scientific and engineering communities concerning the potential for the United States’ light-duty transportation sector to meet a goal of 80% reduction in vehicle emissions and examine what it will take to meet this target. Climate change is a problem that must be solved. The primary cause of this problem is burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. A dramatic reduction in carbon emissions must happen soon, and a significant fraction of this reduction must come from the transportation sector. This paper reviews existing literature to assess the consensus of the scientific and engineering communities concerning the potential for the United States' light-duty transportation sector to meet a goal of 80% reduction in vehicle emissions and examine what it will take to meet this target. It is unlikely that reducing energy consumption in just vehicles with gasoline-based internal combustion drivetrains will be sufficient to meet GHG emission-reduction targets. This paper explores what additional benefits are possible through the adoption of alternative energy sources, looking at three possible on-vehicle energy carriers: carbon-based fuels, hydrogen, and batteries.},
doi = {10.1557/mre.2016.8},
journal = {MRS Energy & Sustainability},
number = ,
volume = 3,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Aug 08 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Mon Aug 08 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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  • Climate change is a problem that must be solved. The primary cause of this problem is burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. A dramatic reduction in carbon emissions must happen soon, and a significant fraction of this reduction must come from the transportation sector. This paper reviews existing literature to assess the consensus of the scientific and engineering communities concerning the potential for the United States' light-duty transportation sector to meet a goal of 80 percent reduction in vehicle emissions and examine what it will take to meet this target. It is unlikely that reducing energy consumption in justmore » vehicles with gasoline-based internal combustion drivetrains will be sufficient to meet GHG emission-reduction targets. This paper explores what additional benefits are possible through the adoption of alternative energy sources, looking at three possible on-vehicle energy carriers: carbon-based fuels, hydrogen, and batteries. potential for the United States' light-duty transportation sector to meet a goal of 80 percent reduction in vehicle emissions and examine what it will take to meet this target. It is unlikely that reducing energy consumption in just vehicles with gasoline-based internal combustion drivetrains will be sufficient to meet GHG emission-reduction targets. This paper explores what additional benefits are possible through the adoption of alternative energy sources, looking at three possible on-vehicle energy carriers: carbon-based fuels, hydrogen, and batteries.« less
  • Commonly considered strategies for reducing the environmental impact of light-duty transportation include using alternative fuels and improving vehicle fuel economy. We evaluate the air quality-related human health impacts of 10 such options, including the use of liquid biofuels, diesel, and compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines; the use of electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources to power electric vehicles (EVs); and the use of hybrid EV technology. Our approach combines spatially, temporally, and chemically detailed life cycle emission inventories; comprehensive, fine-scale state-of-the-science chemical transport modeling; and exposure, concentration–response, and economic health impact modeling for ozonemore » (O 3) and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). We find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or “grid average” electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline. Conversely, EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar power reduce environmental health impacts by 50% or more. Consideration of potential climate change impacts alongside the human health outcomes described here further reinforces the environmental preferability of EVs powered by low-emitting electricity relative to gasoline vehicles.« less
  • Commonly considered strategies for reducing the environmental impact of light-duty transportation include using alternative fuels and improving vehicle fuel economy. We evaluate the air quality-related human health impacts of 10 such options, including the use of liquid biofuels, diesel, and compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines; the use of electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources to power electric vehicles (EVs); and the use of hybrid EV technology. Our approach combines spatially, temporally, and chemically detailed life cycle emission inventories; comprehensive, fine-scale state-of-the-science chemical transport modeling; and exposure, concentration–response, and economic health impact modeling for ozonemore » (O 3) and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). We find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or “grid average” electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline. Conversely, EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar power reduce environmental health impacts by 50% or more. Consideration of potential climate change impacts alongside the human health outcomes described here further reinforces the environmental preferability of EVs powered by low-emitting electricity relative to gasoline vehicles.« less
    Cited by 47
  • Reducing GHG emissions in the U.S. transportation sector requires both the use of highly efficient propulsion systems and low carbon fuels. This study compares reduction potentials that might be achieved in 2060 for several advanced options including biofuels, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), assuming that technical and cost reduction targets are met and necessary fueling infrastructures are built. The study quantifies the extent of the reductions that can be achieved through increasing engine efficiency and transitioning to low-carbon fuels separately. Decarbonizing the fuels is essential for achieving large reductions inmore » GHG emissions, and the study quantifies the reductions that can be achieved over a range of fuel carbon intensities. Although renewables will play a vital role, some combination of coal gasification with carbon capture and sequestration, and/or nuclear energy will likely be needed to enable very large reductions in carbon intensities for hydrogen and electricity. Biomass supply constraints do not allow major carbon emission reductions from biofuels alone; the value of biomass is that it can be combined with other solutions to help achieve significant results. Compared with gasoline, natural gas provides 20% reduction in GHG emissions in internal combustion engines and up to 50% reduction when used as a feedstock for producing hydrogen or electricity, making it a good transition fuel for electric propulsion drive trains. The material in this paper can be useful information to many other countries, including developing countries because of a common factor: the difficulty of finding sustainable, low-carbon, cost-competitive substitutes for petroleum fuels.« less
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