Study shows how to make electric cars more eco-friendly through life cycle assessment

Life cycle assessment could pave way for more eco-friendly electric cars, a new study has shown. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a systems method that provides a holistic overview of a product’s environmental impact over its life cycle from raw material extraction, through production processes and use, to waste management, including all transportation and energy consumption in the intermediate stages.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology provide concrete advice and tools showing how life cycle assessment can assist in the development of electric cars.

Anders Nordelöf, a researcher in environmental systems analysis at Chalmers University of Technology, is seeking a more future-oriented approach to the electric car. He thinks it is necessary to focus on solving the problems that arise in the transition to the new technology. Nordelöf points out that the great strength of the electric car is in its potential. In a recent PhD thesis he gives clear advice to industry, policy-makers and authorities to work together to develop electric cars by making their production as fossil-free as possible.

He is providing key pieces of the puzzle to help progress the development of electric cars, and shows in his thesis how life cycle assessment, LCA, can be used to minimise their environmental impact in the long term.

The thesis contains details of specific tools, methodology recommendations and new models for collecting LCA data, which are aimed at anyone working on the development of electric-powered vehicles using life cycle assessment.

Nordelöf provides some technology advice for the automotive industry based on his research. He stresses that energy efficiency and greater production of electricity from renewables is the key to reducing the environmental impact of electric cars in the operational phase, globally.

Nordelöf’s study also contains a summary of what previous LCA studies had to say about the environmental impact of electric cars. He points out that the results are contradictory and disparate, while showing that this is mainly due to shortcomings in the design and reporting of the studies – since the choice of methodology, purpose and target group are not clearly presented.

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