Assessments on emergy and greenhouse gas emissions of internal combustion engine automobiles and electric automobiles in the USA

Zhen Zhang , Ran Jing , Chen Yuan , Hamidreza Rezaei , Jin Qian


Received May 17, 2019,Revised , Accepted November 25, 2019, Available online December 24, 2019

Volume 32,2020,Pages 297-309

Increasing energy consumption in the transportation sector results in challenging greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and environmental problems. This paper involved integrated assessments on GHG emissions and emergy of the life cycle for the internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric automobiles in the USA over the entire assumed fifteen-year lifetime. The hotspots of GHG emissions as well as emergy indices for the major processes of automobile life cycle within the defined system boundaries have been investigated. The potential strategies for reducing GHG emissions and emergy in the life cycle of both ICE and electric automobiles were further proposed. Based on the current results, the total GHG emissions from the life cycle of ICE automobiles are 4.48E + 07 kg CO2-e which is 320 times higher than that of the electric automobiles. The hotspot area of the GHG emissions from ICE and electric automobiles are operation phase and manufacturing process, respectively. Interesting results were observed that comparable total emergy of the ICE automobiles and electric automobiles have been calculated which were 1.54E + 17 and 2.20E + 17 sej, respectively. Analysis on emergy index evidenced a better environmental sustainability of electric automobiles than ICE automobiles over the life cycle due to its higher ESI. To the authors’ knowledge, it is the first time to integrate the analysis of GHG emissions together with emergy in industrial area of automobile engineering. It is expected that the integration of emergy and GHG emissions analysis may provide a comprehensive perspective on eco-industrial sustainability of automobile engineering.

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