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Research Papers

Well-To-Wheel Analysis of Solar Hydrogen Production and Utilization for Passenger Car Transportation

[+] Author and Article Information
Remo Felder

Solar Technology Laboratory,  Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland

Anton Meier

Solar Technology Laboratory,  Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerlandanton.meier@psi.ch

J. Sol. Energy Eng 130(1), 011017 (Dec 28, 2007) (10 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2807195 History: Received September 25, 2006; Revised April 05, 2007; Published December 28, 2007

A well-to-wheel analysis is conducted for solar hydrogen production, transport, and usage in future passenger car transportation. Solar hydrogen production methods and selected conventional production technologies are examined using a life cycle assessment. Utilization of hydrogen in fuel cells is compared with advanced gasoline and diesel powertrains. Solar scenarios show distinctly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than fossil-based scenarios. For example, using solar hydrogen in fuel cell cars reduces life cycle GHG emissions by 70% compared to advanced fossil fuel powertrains and by more than 90% if car and road infrastructure are not considered. Solar hydrogen production allows a reduction of fossil energy requirements by a factor of up to 10 compared to using conventional technologies. Major environmental impacts are associated with the construction of the steel-intensive infrastructure for solar energy collection due to mineral and fossil resource consumption as well as discharge of pollutants related to today’s steel production technology.

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Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Pathways for (1) solar production of H2 at a CSP plant located in Southern Spain, (2) transport of H2 or an intermediate energy carrier such as Zn or electricity to Central Europe (Switzerland), and (3) distribution and utilization of H2 in a fuel cell vehicle (FCV). Acronyms are explained in Table 1.

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Figure 2

Model flow diagram of the water-splitting solar thermochemical Zn∕ZnO cycle (based on Ref. 6)

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Figure 3

GHG emissions in g CO2-eq.∕MJ hydrogen (LHV) in car tank at 350bars

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Figure 4

CED of primary energy sources, in MJ-eq.∕MJ hydrogen (LHV) in car tank at 350bars

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Figure 5

GHG emissions in g CO2-eq. per passenger kilometer (including fuel chain, operational emissions and construction, maintenance, and disposal of car and road infrastructure; average load of 1.59 passengers per car) showing contributions of life cycle stages

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Figure 6

CED in MJ-eq. per passenger kilometer (including fuel chain, operational emissions and construction, maintenance, and disposal of car and road infrastructure; average load of 1.59 passengers per car) showing specific energy resources

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Figure 7

Eco-indicator’99—Hierarchist points per MJ hydrogen (LHV) in car tank at 350bars; the most important impact categories are shown. For details see text.

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Figure 8

Eco-scarcity’97 points (UBP) per MJ hydrogen (LHV) in car tank at 350bars; the most important impact categories are shown. For details see text.

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