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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. (Unpublished)

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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
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Cooney, Gregory
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMarriott,
Committee MemberLandis, Amyael30@pitt.eduAEL30
Committee MemberHawkins,
Committee MemberKhanna, Vikaskhannav@pitt.eduKHANNAV
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; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
Degree: MSCE - Master of Science in Civil Engineering
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: environmental impact; global warming; LCA; mass transit
Other ID:, etd-07202011-105029
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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