Life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis of eFuels used in heavy-duty vehicle

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Insinööritieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
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Nordic Master Programme in Innovative and Sustainable Energy Engineering (ISEE)
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In the continent of Europe, 77% of all freight moved by trucks making road freight is essential to business and trade. Finland has a robust economy especially in forest industry, making it leading exporter of timber and forest products which makes Heavy-duty vehicles’ (HDVs) play a big role in supporting the operation of this corporation. Currently in Finland, the HDV sector is responsible for 4.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 (40% of the total Finnish road transport CO2 emission). Meanwhile according to the EU legislation, Finland needs to curb the domestic transport emissions in the effort sharing sector by at least 50% by 2030. This means that the transport sector should have a zero emission by 2045 at the latest. In order to achieve the target, modernization and decarbonization of the heavy-duty sector are necessary. This research aims to evaluate the environmental impact of decarbonizing the heavy-duty sector with alternative fuels, specifically hydrogen, methanol, and ammonia-based electrofuels (eFuels). The study integrates life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic analysis (TEA) to analyze the relationships between technical, economic, and environmental performance. Two scenarios are considered, with different electricity sources (grid and biopower plant) supplying the eFuel production process. The LCA results within well-to-wheel approach show that all eFuel options lead to significant greenhouse gas (GHG) savings (>50%) relatively to conventional diesel fuel, particularly when low carbon intensity (CI) electricity is used. Methanol fuel exhibits the lowest global warming impact (GWP) by 0.155 kgCO2-eq/km, while ammonia (+diesel) fuel has the highest impact of 1.33 kgCO2-eq/km. The findings consistently demonstrate that the biopower plant scenario yields lower GWP impact compared to the grid scenario. The production costs for all eFuels remain within the current market price range, with hydrogen fuel being the least expensive (0.58 € per km) and ammonia (+diesel) fuel (1.11 € per km) being the most expensive. The study highlights that the cost of eFuels is largely influenced by electricity prices, emphasizing the importance of renewable electricity sources and supportive policies. Despite the interest in eFuels, their production and availability are currently limited, hindering large-scale pilot projects. Alternative technological solutions should be explored to meet decarbonization goals, considering infrastructure challenges in electrification scenarios. Additionally, eFuels can serve as chemical storage for variable renewable electricity, providing balancing services and alleviating the need for grid upgrades. Over-all, this research underscores the potential of eFuels to reduce GHG emissions in the heavy-duty sector, highlighting the importance of sustainable energy sources and supportive policies for their widespread adoption.
Kaario, Ossi
Thesis advisor
Janssen, Matty
eFuels, hydrogen, methanol, ammonia, global warming potential, production cost
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