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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Life Cycle Assessment of Fuel Cell Vehicles - Dealing with Uncertainties


Subjectivity and uncertainty surround life cycle assessment (LCA) in transportation terms, particularly when new technologies are evaluated amid future scenarios. The Fuel Upstream Energy and Emission Model (FUEEM) was developed to incorporate and propagate uncertainty within an LCA analysis. The model uses probabilistic curves generated by experts as inputs and then employs Monte Carlo simulation techniques to propagate these uncertainties throughout the full chain of fuel production and use. The FUEEM process also explicitly involves interested parties in the entire analysis process, not only in the final review phase. The FUEEM process is demonstrated within an analysis for the use of three different fuel cell vehicle technologies—direct hydrogen, indirect methanol, and indirect hydrocarbon—in 2010 within the South Coast Air Basin of California.

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