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Life cycle assessment and life cycle costing of hydrogen fuel cell, natural gas, and diesel bus transportation systems in Western Australia

Ally, Jamie (2015) Life cycle assessment and life cycle costing of hydrogen fuel cell, natural gas, and diesel bus transportation systems in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Hydrogen fuel cell systems have many characteristics which are attractive for the heavyduty transport industry, including complementarity with electric vehicles and a cross-benefit from developments in batteries and electric drivetrains. Fuel cells may find their niche in the electrification of heavy-duty drivetrains, where zero emissions are desirable and where duty cycle or payload requirements exceed the capabilities of battery-only vehicles.

Three hydrogen fuel cell buses (HFCBs) were trialled in Perth from 2004 to 2007. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Cost (LCC) models were developed based on primary data. The LCA and LCC determine the overall environmental, energetic and economic performance of each technology by enumerating all phases of the complete transportation system including the fuel infrastructure, bus manufacturing, operation, and end-of-life disposal. LCA’s of the existing diesel and natural gas transportation systems were developed in parallel. In 2013 Transperth introduced a diesel-electric hybrid bus, which was incorporated in the study. International state-of-the-art HFCB data was also collected and modelled to determine the performance of a next-generation fleet in Perth.

HFCB and Diesel-electric Hybrid technologies are compared to the baseline performance of the current Diesel bus fleet operating in Perth. The HFCB is modelled for several Australian hydrogen production pathways, and finds that electrolysis using grid electricity would increase emissions dramatically across all impact categories, while hydrogen from natural gas reforming provides a modest improvement. Electrolysis from wind dramatically reduces total emissions. The diesel-electric hybrid achieves a significant emissions reduction. However, the LCC finds that both the diesel-electric hybrid and the HFCB are far from costcompetitive with Diesel on a Total Cost of Ownership basis. An uncertainty analysis quantifies the potential LCA error, and several sensitivity analyses are used to understand the key factors that dominate the LCA and LCC outcomes, the breakeven points, and areas for further research.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor: Pryor, Trevor
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