Linehaul Trucking Systems Decarbonization Analysis INTERNAL REPORT to Amazon.com, Inc.
Greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) emitted by human activities are inarguably contributing to a changing climate. The transportation sector – which relies heavily on combusting fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel and has long been a dominant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – must be part of the solution to reduce emissions. This report explores the ways in which linehaul (heavy truck freight traveling long distances) can decarbonize. Both short-haul (commercial trips less than 250 miles from start to finish) and long-haul (trips over 250 miles) trucking are evaluated. The report focuses on three diesel truck alternatives: renewable natural gas (upgraded biogas) trucks, battery electric trucks, and hydrogen gas-powered fuel cell electric trucks.
This report analyzes the opportunities and challenges that multiple alternative powertrains present and addresses how each powertrain could be used to advance decarbonization and zero-emissions initiatives, depending on the priorities of linehaul owners. It seeks to guide further research and investments so that the linehaul transportation industry can move past technical limitations into a position where trucking decarbonization can be a reality.
Research insight was based on an extensive literature review, the Argonne National Laboratory’s transportation emissions and economic modeling tools, academic and fuel-vendor interviews, and a summer internship on Amazon’s Transportation Sustainability team. The Argonne models used were the 2019 versions of Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy in Transportation (GREET) and Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET).
Five criteria were determined to influence the fit of alternative powertrains for linehaul trucking: greenhouse gas reduction potential, vehicle availability, vehicle functionality, cost, and scalability. Ability to meet zero-emissions vehicle targets is a consideration within the greenhouse gas reduction criterion. Alternative transportation systems become competitive when their total cost of operations are near diesel parity, their carbon footprints from well-to-wheel (across the fuel supply chain, including fuel use) are lower than the diesel vehicle status-quo – especially if they approach zero emissions, and if they are scalable.
Dodinval, Claire. (2020) Linehaul Trucking Systems Decarbonization Analysis. CSS Reprt (INTERNAL to Amazon.com, Inc.) , University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-96.