Life cycle assessment of battery electric vehicles: Implications of future electricity mix and different battery end-of-life management

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Abstract

The environmental performance of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is influenced by their battery size and charging electricity source. Therefore, assessing their environmental performance should consider changes in the electricity sector and refurbishment of their batteries. This study conducts a scenario-based Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of three different scenarios combining four key parameters: future changes in the charging electricity mix, battery efficiency fade, battery refurbishment, and recycling for their collective importance on the life-cycle environmental performance of a BEV. The system boundary covers all the life-cycle stages of the BEV and includes battery refurbishment, except for its second use stage. The refurbished battery was modelled considering refurbished components and a 50% cell conversion rate for the second life of 5 years. The results found a 9.4% reduction in climate impacts when future changes (i.e., increase in the share of renewable energy) in the charging electricity are considered. Recycling reduced the BEV climate impacts by approximately 8.3%, and a reduction smaller than1%was observed for battery refurbishment. However, the battery efficiency fade increases the BEV energy consumption, which results in a 7.4 to 8.1% rise in use stage climate impacts. Therefore, it is vital to include battery efficiency fade and changes to the electricity sector when estimating the use-stage impacts of BEVs; without this, LCA results could be unreliable. The sensitivity analysis showed the possibility of a higher reduction in the BEV climate impacts for longer second lifespans (>5 years) and higher cell conversation rates (>50%). BEV and battery production are the most critical stages for all the other impact categories assessed, specifically contributing more than 90% to mineral resource scarcity. However, recycling and battery refurbishment can reduce the burden of the different impact categories considered. Therefore, manufacturers should design BEV battery packs while considering recycling and refurbishment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number154859
Number of pages26
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume831
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
  • Refurbished EV Batteries
  • Li-ion batteries (LiB)
  • Second-Life Batteries
  • passenger cars

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