Environmental and energy impacts of battery electric and conventional vehicles: A study in Sweden under recycling scenarios

Elsevier, Fuel Communications, Volume 14, March 2023, 100083
Sahar Safarian

Electromobility is the future main system for Swedish road transport that encourage sustainable urban transportation. However, emission impacts of applying electric vehicles (EVs) are currently controversial. This study evaluates and compares internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) refer to both petrol and diesel-based engines and BEVs, focusing on environmental and energy impacts. The entire life cycle of vehicles production, fuel production and fuel use are considered and life cycle emissions impacts due to various electricity generation alternatives will be studied. LCA of BEV is also conducted under different recycling scenarios to determine what extent CO2 can be further reduced owing to car and battery recycling. The results show that BEVs charged by natural-gas, and renewable electricity produce less emissions of CO2, SO2, PM, VOCs, NOX and Sb than ICEVs but higher PO4 emissions and need more energy. The largest fraction of CO2 emissions for BEVs charged via renewable electricity is due to vehicle production (61-78% of BEV's life cycle CO2 emissions). CO2 emissions regarding to vehicle production for BEVs is 14.6 ton (60.8 gCO2/km) which is 132% and 123% of that for petrol and diesel ICEVs, respectively. Human toxicity and eutrophication impacts highlight as potentially important categories for transition from ICEVs to BEVs due to high toxicity and PO4 emissions in BEV production. By applying high scenario for car and battery recycling, CO2 emissions in BEVs lifespan charged by renewable electricity can be reduced 50% (83 gCO2/km); total PO4 emissions can be also decreased 56% with production of 79 mgPO4/km.