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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2018 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health CENTER: PSR

Life Cycle Assessment of Environmental and Economic Impacts of Deploying Alternative Urban Bus Powertrain Technologies in the South Coast Air Basin

Project Summary

Project Number: PSR-18-16
Funding Source: State of California (SB1)
Funding Amount: $53,837
Start and End dates: 1/1/2018 to 6/30/2020

Project description

To address issues of air quality and greenhouse gas emissions in the South Coast Air Basin, local transit agencies are considering shifting their urban buses to battery electric buses (BEBs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs). However, each of these options vary in their effectiveness in reducing emissions over their life cycle, associated life cycle costs and environmental footprint, and ability to meet operational needs. Therefore, this project carried out a life cycle-based analysis and comparison of the environmental externalities associated with BEBs and FCEBs, taking into account their ability to meet operational constraints of the Orange County Transportation Authority. For environmental footprint, both FCEBs and BEBs had comparable benefits over conventional buses when fueled with renewable resources. When the electricity mix involved a non-trivial fossil fuel share, BEBs provided larger benefits than FCEBs, but overall benefit levels relative to conventional buses were lower, highlighting the need for fossil fuel-free fuel production. For total cost of ownership, both BEBs and FCEBs are currently more expensive than conventional alternative primarily due to higher initial purchase prices and additional infrastructure costs. Moving into the future, reducing these costs will be critical in enabling the adoption of BEBs and FCEBs.


Scott Samuelsen
Professor Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
APEP Office: 221 Engineering Laboratory Facility
MAE Office: 4231 Engineering GatewayIrvine, CA 92697
United States
[email protected]