Fuel cell a useful complement to battery-electric drives, study says

May 04, 2021 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Fuel cell a useful complement to battery-electric drives, study says
Experts from engineering company IAV have examined the CO2 savings potential of alternative drive types for road vehicles. The lifecycle assessment shows: hydrogen vehicles achieve a comparable, in some cases even better result than battery-electric vehicles.

Politicians and industry are in broad agreement that the CO2 emissions caused by the transport sector must be significantly reduced. To achieve this goal, however, the public and political debate is largely focused on the battery-electric drive, complains Matthias Kratzsch, Chairman of IAV's Board of Management. At the highly respected Vienna Motor Symposium, the engineering company therefore presented a study showing that it would make perfect sense to include hydrogen fuel cell drive more strongly in the development of environmentally friendly mobility. This applies above all to heavier vehicles.

For the study, experts from IAV examined the CO2 footprint of three vehicle classes. These were a medium-heavy SUV, a light commercial vehicle and a heavy commercial vehicle. For each vehicle class, the study authors examined the CO2 equivalents that would be produced by using a purely battery-electric drive, a fuel cell and a hydrogen combustion engine. The calculations were made according to a tank-to-wheel, well-to-wheel and life cycle assessment (LCA). For the latter, the complete cycle of a vehicle was analysed from raw material extraction through the logistics chain, production, assembly and use to recycling.

For their work, the authors used GaBi, the leading LCA software in the automotive sector, and applied data from the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), for example for the predicted CO2 intensity of the German electricity mix in 2030, taking into account the progressive trend in the German automotive industry towards CO2-neutral production as well as increasing production of battery systems.

With all three drive variants examined, the CO2 footprint in the transport sector could be significantly reduced in 2030 under consistent LCA consideration, explains study author and IAV department head Marc Sens. According to the results, a vehicle with a fuel cell drive is, depending on the vehicle class examined, similarly climate-friendly to a purely battery-electric vehicle in the respective weight class.

The study also examined the

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