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E-Mobility on the Test Bench of Sustainability

As of the end of January 2021, there were over 45,000 all-electric passenger cars in Austria. This is less than 1% of all vehicles on Austria's roads, but the growth curve shows an exponential trend.

f. l. Martin Beermann, Franz Prettenthaler and Gerfried Jungmeier with the battery life cycle tester
f. l. Martin Beermann, Franz Prettenthaler and Gerfried Jungmeier of LIFE - Institute for Climate, Energy and Society, Credit: JOANNEUM RESEARCH/ Schwarzl

Increasing awareness on the topic of climate change is driving this trend, but are electric vehicles really that environmentally friendly? The sustainability experts at JOANNEUM RESEARCH have developed the Battery Life Cycle Check for battery and vehicle manufacturers as well as for mobility service providers and consumers.

 

What is Life Cycle Assessment?

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a systematic analysis of the environmental impacts of services and products along the entire lifespan of a product, including its manufacture and recycling or disposal. It also includes the environmental impact of upstream and downstream processes, such as the provision of the necessary raw materials and energy.

 

"The topic of mobility has been reassessed during the COVID pandemic. The bicycle is gaining in importance, individual transport is back in - so the electric vehicle is also increasingly coming into the focus of conscious consumers," explains Martin Beermann, sustainability expert at LIFE – Institute for Climate, Energy and Society of JOANNEUM RESEARCH.

"With the Battery Life Cycle Check, we offer manufacturers a way to optimise their products and identify potential for improvement. The consumer can be informed about the climate relevance of the battery - which increases transparency," explains Beermann.

 

LCA and Data Availability for Battery Production

One challenge in a LCA is the availability of data on battery production, as it requires data that is as realistic and up-to-date as possible.

Beermann: "The greenhouse gas emissions from the production of a lithium-ion battery depend primarily on the battery capacity, the battery chemistry and the manufacturing location of the materials and the battery. These factors result in a wide range of battery manufacturing emissions, ranging from about 2 to 12 metric tons of CO2 eq for today's typical battery sizes between 40 and 100 kWh in electric passenger cars. Applying this to a lifetime of 200,000 kilometers, battery production corresponds to an equivalent gasoline consumption of 0.3 to 2 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers."

 

Partners & Support

Die Zusammenarbeit mit Produzenten und Forschungsunternehmen ist wesentlich und wird unter anderem durch das Netzwerk der Internationalen Energieagentur (IEA) unterstützt. Finanziert werden diese Aktivitäten vom Bundesministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Energie, Mobilität, Innovation und Technologie (BMK) und dem Klima- und Energiefonds.

Cooperation with producers and research companies is essential and is supported by the International Energy Agency (IEA) network, among others. These activities are financed by the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and the Climate and Energy Fund.