Integration of Lifecycle and Macroeconomic Analysis
One of the many challenges facing the introduction of fuel cell vehicles is the establishment of an appropriate fueling infrastructure. This research project explores dynamics involved in establishing a hydrogen infrastructure before and as fuel cell vehicles become mass-produced within the United States. The scenario-based analysis examines a 50 year time period (2000-2050) accounting for, among other things, vehicle production and replacement rates, numbers and types of hydrogen filling stations needed to meet demand, fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, and changes in capital investments over time. Fuel cell and internal combustion engine vehicles are examined from a life cycle perspective to account for total resource use (i.e. back to raw materials) to better understand a broad range of environmental impacts and infrastructure requirements (such as vehicle recycling facilities, equipment production facilities, maintenance and labor needs, etc.). Initial primary energy sources for hydrogen are natural gas and wind or grid electricity via electrolysis. Primary indicators within the scenario analysis are capital investments and greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of the research is to better understand coordination between various stakeholders over time (fuel suppliers, vehicle manufacturers, passenger vehicle buyers and local development authorities.), and to gauge the potential economic risks of a mismatch between rates of fueling infrastructure development and rates of fuel cell vehicle deployment. Results from the research will also be useful in gauging macroeconomic effects of changing vehicle drivetrains and material compositions as well as primary fuel sources.