This dissertation explores the air quality, climate, and environmental injustice aspects of potential strategies for reducing the environmental impacts of the light-duty vehicles in the United States. To improve the accuracy of life cycle air quality impact assessment, I add process-specific spatial and temporal information to an existing attributional life cycle emissions inventory (LCI) model. I then combine this emissions model with an advanced air quality model to find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or "grid average" electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline. Conversely, EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar-power reduce impacts by 50% or more. I additionally explore how alternative vehicle fuel production and use would affect disparities in environmental health risks among race, ethnicity, and income groups, known as environmental justice. To do this I develop and apply a new air quality model, the Intervention Model for Air Pollution (InMAP), which is well-suited to investigate these environmental injustice issues because it can be used with high enough spatial resolution to resolve intra-urban differences in pollution concentration and to track the long-range transport of pollution at the same time. I find that the scenarios that cause the greatest improvements in overall air quality-related health impacts compared to the business-as-usual gasoline scenario---electric vehicles powered by natural gas or wind, water, or solar power---also yield substantial improvements in environmental justice.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2014. Major: Civil Engineering. Advisor: Julian Marshall. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 196 pages.
Life Cycle Air Quality and Climate Impacts of Conventional and Alternative Light-Duty Transportation in the United States.
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