Life Cycle Assessment of innovative fuel blends for passenger cars with a spark-ignition engine: a comparative approach

The article, which was published by the peer-reviewed scientific magazine Journal of Cleaner Production, reports the latest results of a research work entitled Effects of the use of innovative fuels and biofuels on the reduction of air pollution and the climate change carried out in our laboratories as a PhD scholarship activity co-financed by Politecnico di Milano and Innovhub SSI.

Passenger cars account for 44% of greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the European Union. To align with the European Green Deal by 2050, road transport should develop and deploy alternative technologies to reduce emissions by 90%.

In this work, the Life Cycle Assessment methodology was applied to assess the environmental impacts of a medium (C-segment) internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) and a medium (C-segment) battery electric vehicle (BEV). For the ICEV, four innovative petrol blends were considered. These innovative blends consist of petrol and fuels such as fossil ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), bio-ETBE, bionaphtha, bioethanol, methanol, biomethanol, and e-methanol.

After a preliminary selection of biofuel alternatives, all the assessed blends potentially guarantee a slight reduction in climate change (from 0.8% to 10.1%) compared to the reference petrol car. The blend containing bionaphtha contributed the least to climate change. The BEV released about 41% less greenhouse gas emissions than the reference car. Although the ICEV and the BEV showed a reduction in climate change and fossil resources, the picture is less straightforward for the other 14 impact categories.

The full text of the article can be viewed for free until 6 December 2022 in the Journal of Cleaner Production (Volume 378, 10 December 2022, 134535). After this date, the article will be available for consultation only to subscribers.

Authors

- Stefano Puricelli, Politecnico di Milano
- Daniele Costa, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
- Lucia Rigamonti, Politecnico di Milano
- Giuseppe Cardellini, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / VITO-EnergyVille
- Simone Casadei, Innovhub SSI
- Michael Samsu Koroma, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
- Maarten Messagie, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
- Mario Grosso, Politecnico di Milano