Comparative life cycle impact assessment of a battery electric and a conventional powertrains for a passenger transport ferryboat : A case study of the entire integrated system for vessel propulsion

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Linköpings universitet/Industriell miljöteknikTekniska högskolan


This master thesis represents a life cycle impact assessment of a state of the art electrically driven power train. It is expected to be installed in a diesel engine passenger ferry boat, currently transporting passengers in downtown Stockholm archipelago. The assessment has a comparative character in between the currently operating and the new power train in order to differentiate and recognize which of the two propulsion options is the environmentally preferable choice.

The scope of the study is directed towards the thorough examination of both power trains so that it can represent most closely the two specific technological cases. Studied and assessed were the three main life cycle phases of each power train – raw materials acquisition and manufacturing, use phase and end of life phase. The fundament of the study involved creating environmental models for each and every component of the drive trains, the propulsion fuel and energy used, and the services related to waste treatment in the last phase of their functional life. The environmental models were later used to build live cycle inventories that served to derive the respectful impact from the item analyzed. The data used to model the battery electric power train was provided directly from the manufacturer, where the end of life procedures carried out were assumed where possible. The main battery pack for the electric power train was not modeled in terms of  end of life procedures due to insufficiency of information. Almost no generic information was available to model the diesel engine and it was calculated by creating auxiliary simplified cad models. The rest of the data required to achieve an environmental inventory regarding the power train was available from a subcontractor. Both studied options were modeled with allocation approach that includes the avoided production of materials at the waste treatment stage where there was sufficient information to do that. There was none to model the main battery packs avoided production which is a major component of the battery electric system. To model the use phase of the diesel engine power train, research data regarding combustion emissions and waterborne emissions was utilized. A number of electricity mix models were applied to create a sensitivity analysis of the operation phase of the battery electric power train. Chosen for baseline scenarios simulating the use phases of both power trains are use of Nordel market electricity mix and the combustion of low sulfur diesel with five volumetric percent rape methyl ester additive.

For the purposes of the assessment eighteen midpoint impact indicators were used to cover the areas of global warming potential, human health and quality of eco systems. The results from the study show that the estimated impact from both power trains is small enough to have almost no influence on the results from the two baseline scenarios. Based on this it was concluded that for future research of similar cases either generic information can be used or a cut-off can be applied. After the assessment, more environmentally favorable was estimated the diesel engine power train because of the large burdens from the battery manufacturing in the battery electric option. Further assessment determined that the diesel engine power train again is less environmentally intensive than the battery electric with the main battery burdens excluded. In the overall life cycle impact assessment both power train showed different results in the different impact categories, which could not place a definitive propulsion option of choice. The conclusions from the analysis are that the diesel engine power train causes higher impact in the categories related to global warming, fossil depletion and in most ecosystems quality indicators. The battery electric version in its base line scenario, on the other hand, expresses higher impact in categories related to human health and in the remaining eco system quality midpoint-scores.

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