Cradle-to-gate GHG emissions for ICEVs and BEVs from different studies, including the current Ford/LG work. Credit: ACS, Kim et al. via Green Car Congress
Ford's Research and Innovation Center and LG Chem's Corporate R&D released an interesting article recently
“Cradle-to-Gate Emissions from a Commercial Electric Vehicle Li-Ion Battery: A Comparative Analysis”
The main topic of the piece was a GHG emissions comparison between a conventional and all-electric Ford Focus, including battery pack production (cells and packs).
There is no big surprise that Ford Focus Electric will fares worse right out of the gate when it is produced (39% increase in the cradle-to-gate GHG emissions) as battery is a huge, heavy component in the car, which needs also a lot of energy to intially produce.
"We report the first cradle-to-gate emissions assessment for a mass-produced battery in a commercial battery electric vehicle (BEV); the lithium-ion battery pack used in the Ford Focus BEV.
The 2017 Focus Electric brings a long range battery featuring high density cells and a deeper lifecycle, which will improve GHG emissions statistics even further
The assessment was based on the bill of materials and primary data from the battery industry, that is, energy and materials input data from the battery cell and pack supplier. Cradle-to-gate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the 24 kWh Ford Focus lithium-ion battery are 3.4 metric tonnes of CO2-eq (140 kg CO2-eq per kWh or 11 kg CO2-eq per kg of battery). Cell manufacturing is the key contributor accounting for 45% of the GHG emissions. We review published studies of GHG emissions associated with battery production to compare and contrast with our results.
Extending the system boundary to include the entire vehicle we estimate a 39% increase in the cradle-to-gate GHG emissions of the Focus BEV compared to the Focus internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), which falls within the range of literature estimates of 27–63% increases for hypothetical nonproduction BEVs. Our results reduce the uncertainties associated with assessment of BEV battery production, serve to identify opportunities to reduce emissions, and confirm previous assessments that BEVs have great potential to reduce GHG emissions over the full life cycle and provide local emission free mobility."
But one of the main points to switching to BEVs is lowering total GHG emissions over the vehicle's entire lifetime. And in almost all cases, BEV emissions are much lower during actual driving. Therefore, during an entire life cycle, the average BEV could bring 30−40% GHG emissions reduction.
"Despite their higher cradle-to-gate GHG emissions, switching from ICEVs to BEVs potentially saves a large amount of GHG emissions during their life cycle. Published studies have estimated approximately 30−40% life cycle GHG emissions reduction for BEVs powered by the average US or European electric grid mix.
Using our GHG estimate for BEV battery production, 11 kg CO2-eq/kg battery, in place of those in the literature gives an estimate of 31−37% life cycle GHG benefits for BEVs over gasoline ICEVs. Our results confirm the potential for BEVs to curb GHG emissions from the transportation sector.
Current trends of increasing vehicle energy efficiency, decreasing burdens associated with battery production, decreasing burdens for electricity production, and increasing burdens for oil production are expected to increase the GHG emission benefits of electrification technology. We highlight the importance of further LCA studies for BEVs using real world data to capture future improvements in vehicle performance and battery materials."
Today's Ford Focus Electric utilizes a 24 kWh battery - new 2017 edition begins production in November
Ford Focus Electric battery (2016):
- 24 kWh
- 430 cells (produced by LG Chem in South Korea)
- 3.7 V nominal cell voltage
- 80 Wh/kg energy denisty
As battery technology improves, cell density and lifecycles improve, which will significantly improve GHG comparisons with conventional vehicles, as well as taking into account the GHG saving/value as batteries are re-purposed into energy storage solutions, such as the recent xStorage system introduced by Nissan in Europe.