Comparison of energy efficiency, emissions, and costs of internal combustion and fuel cell vehicles operating on various fuels
Author(s)Picazo, Christine Pilar L. (Christine Pilar Lopez)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Technology and Policy Program.
John M. Deutch.
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This thesis aims to evaluate a new transportation technology (fuel cells) against a proven technology (internal combustion engine). Technology is ever evolving, and the new must be an improvement upon the old; otherwise, there is no sense in adopting the new and unproven technology. For the commercialization of the fuel cell vehicle to be successful, it has to be competitive with the internal combustion vehicle in terms of policy parameters which influence the automobile's development and diffusion. These parameters are performance, environmental effects, and economics. A meaningful comparison considers these parameters. Thus the criteria chosen for the comparison are indicators of the parameters-energy efficiency, emissions, and cost to the consumer. A variety of fuels are chosen for each type of vehicle, and the full fuel cycle energy efficiency and emissions resulting from the extraction, production and consumption of these fuels are considered. This results in a comparison that takes into account the entire system associated with the use of fuels in a vehicle. The energy efficiency and emissions are estimated using a simple Reference Case, and a number of previous studies. The cost to the consumer for each type of vehicle is estimated using previous cost studies. Both the initial cost and the operating costs are included in the analysis. The results of the analysis indicate that, considering the full fuel cycle, fuel cell vehicles are more energy efficient and emit fewer pollutants than internal combustion vehicles. However, the difference between the two are dampened by the inefficiencies and emissions associated with the extraction and production of the fuel. Even if fuel cell vehicles are mass-produced, they are still more expensive than conventional vehicles. Thus there is a tradeoff between improved efficiency and environmental performance, and cost. Fuel cell vehicles may possibly cost less than conventional automobiles if they last longer, and are priced on a per kilometer basis. Despite the higher cost, consumers may be willing to pay a premium for improved performance. Moreover, other considerations not within the scope of this thesis, such as other performance parameters and a vehicle support network, must be taken into account.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, Technology and Policy Program, 1999.Includes bibliographical references (p. 113-117).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Technology and Policy Program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Technology and Policy Program.