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Life Cycle Assessment of Diesel and Electric Public Transportation Buses

Cooney, Gregory Allen (2011) Life Cycle Assessment of Diesel and Electric Public Transportation Buses. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    In 2005, there were approximately 50,000 diesel powered public transit buses operating in the United States, consuming over 500 million gallons of fuel annually. The Clean Air Act identifies diesel powered motor vehicles, including transit buses, as significant sources of several criteria pollutants which contribute to ground level ozone formation or smog. The effects of air pollution in urban areas are often more significant due to congestion and can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts. Life cycle assessment has been utilized in the literature to compare conventional gasoline powered passenger cars with various types of electric and hybrid powered alternatives; however, no similarly detailed studies exist for mass transit buses. LCA results from this study indicate that the use phase, consisting of diesel production/combustion for the conventional bus and electricity generation for the electric bus, dominates most impact categories; however, the effects of battery production are significant for global warming, carcinogenics, ozone depletion, and ecotoxicity. There is a clear connection between the mix of power generation technologies and the preference for the diesel or electric bus. With the existing U.S. average grid, there is a strong preference for the conventional diesel bus over the electric bus when considering global warming impacts alone. Policy makers must consider regional variations in the electricity grid prior to recommending the use of battery electric buses to reduce CO2 emissions. This study found that the electric bus was preferable in only eight states including Washington and Oregon. Improvements in battery technology reduce the life cycle impacts from the electric bus, but the electricity grid makeup is the dominant variable.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmailORCID
    Committee ChairMarriott, Joejoe.marriott@gmail.com
    Committee MemberLandis, Amyael30@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberHawkins, TroyHawkins.Troy@epamail.epa.gov
    Committee MemberKhanna, Vikaskhannav@pitt.edu
    Title: Life Cycle Assessment of Diesel and Electric Public Transportation Buses
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: In 2005, there were approximately 50,000 diesel powered public transit buses operating in the United States, consuming over 500 million gallons of fuel annually. The Clean Air Act identifies diesel powered motor vehicles, including transit buses, as significant sources of several criteria pollutants which contribute to ground level ozone formation or smog. The effects of air pollution in urban areas are often more significant due to congestion and can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts. Life cycle assessment has been utilized in the literature to compare conventional gasoline powered passenger cars with various types of electric and hybrid powered alternatives; however, no similarly detailed studies exist for mass transit buses. LCA results from this study indicate that the use phase, consisting of diesel production/combustion for the conventional bus and electricity generation for the electric bus, dominates most impact categories; however, the effects of battery production are significant for global warming, carcinogenics, ozone depletion, and ecotoxicity. There is a clear connection between the mix of power generation technologies and the preference for the diesel or electric bus. With the existing U.S. average grid, there is a strong preference for the conventional diesel bus over the electric bus when considering global warming impacts alone. Policy makers must consider regional variations in the electricity grid prior to recommending the use of battery electric buses to reduce CO2 emissions. This study found that the electric bus was preferable in only eight states including Washington and Oregon. Improvements in battery technology reduce the life cycle impacts from the electric bus, but the electricity grid makeup is the dominant variable.
    Date: 19 September 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 24 June 2011
    Approval Date: 19 September 2011
    Submission Date: 20 July 2011
    Access Restriction: No restriction; The work is available for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: MSCE - Master of Science in Civil Engineering
    URN: etd-07202011-105029
    Uncontrolled Keywords: environmental impact; global warming; LCA; mass transit
    Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:52
    Last Modified: 10 Feb 2012 09:19
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-07202011-105029/, etd-07202011-105029

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