Life cycle assessment of different hypotheses of hydrogen production for vehicle fuel cells fuelling


1 Dipartimento di Energetica “Sergio Stecco” - Università degli Studi di Firenze

2 Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Informazione - Università degli Studi di Siena


The aim of this study is to compare the environmental effects, through Life Cycle Assessment Ap-proach, of three hydrogen production methods: methane steam reforming, water electrolysis fed by photovoltaic electricity, water electrolysis fed by mini-hydroelectric electricity. The assumptions are based on a project proposal of introducing some mini-buses in the city centre of Florence (Italy), equipped with fuel cells fuelled with hydrogen. The inventory of the compared productive cycles has been performed using the literature and direct data obtained from device manufactures. The impact analysis has been carried out using two methods, the Ecoindicator’95 and the Ecoindicator’99 also with the intention of qualitatively comparing the results. Besides the "basic option" an improvement has been proposed focusing on the weak points of the productive cycles. In particular concerning photovoltaic and mini-hydroelectric, the construction phase showed a high contribution to the envi-ronmental load, so some improvements were proposed. The results of the basic option and the im-proved one have been compared. According to the initial assumptions and the proposed changes, the best option for hydrogen production has been highlighted.