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Life-Cycle Analyses of Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions of Natural Gas-Based Alternative Vehicle Fuels in China

DOI: 10.1155/2013/268263

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Abstract:

Tsinghua life-cycle analysis model (TLCAM) has been used to examine the primary fossil energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for natural gas- (NG-) based alternative vehicle fuels in China. The results show that (1) compress NG- and liquid NG-powered vehicles have similar well-to-wheels (WTW) fossil energy uses to conventional gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles, but differences emerge with the distance of NG transportation. Additionally, thanks to NG having a lower carbon content than petroleum, CNG- and LNG-powered vehicles emit 10–20% and 5–10% less GHGs than gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles, respectively; (2) gas-to-liquid- (GTL-) powered vehicles involve approximately 50% more WTW fossil energy uses than conventional gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles, primarily because of the low efficiency of GTL production. Nevertheless, since NG has a lower carbon content than petroleum, GTL-powered vehicles emit approximately 30% more GHGs than conventional-fuel vehicles; (3) The carbon emission intensity of the LNG energy chain is highly sensitive to the efficiency of NG liquefaction and the form of energy used in that process. 1. Background 1.1. Alternative Vehicle Fuels in China 1.1.1. General Background During the period of the eleventh five-year (2006–2010) plan, the Chinese automobile market experienced strong growth. Vehicle ownership increased 20% annually during that period, amounting to 87 million by the end of 2010. This strong growth promoted a steadily increasing demand for fuels and, accordingly, a substantial escalation in petroleum prices. Meanwhile, pollutant and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with petroleum combustion also posed major environmental concerns. Consequently, alternative vehicle fuels are gaining increasing interest. Currently, several nonconventional fuels have been marketed as alternatives to regular vehicle fuels (i.e., gasoline and diesel); these include vehicular natural gas—compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG)—biodiesel, methanol-gasoline blends, ethanol-gasoline blends, and coal-derived fuels. Electric vehicles have also been introduced as a potential solution to the disadvantages of vehicles consuming conventional fuels. The study of CAERC (2012) [1] found that the ownership of natural gas vehicles in China exceeded 500,000 as of 2010; annually 4.6 million tons of vehicular gasoline and diesel are being replaced by natural gas in 2010. Moreover, the annual consumption of methanol-gasoline blends, biofuels, and coal-derived fuels was 200 million tons, 1.83 million

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