EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

Summary & Activities


Summary & Activities

As 95% of transportation energy currently comes from petroleum, significant restructuring of the transportation sector would be required to reach sustainable operation in the future society. This is one of the areas where breakthrough in technologies are in the highest need, and success in research and implementation of those technologies in the nearest ten to fifteen years would dictate what vehicles the next generations will be driving. Strong reliance of vehicles on infrastructure of fuel supply makes the problem of transition to new transportation technologies even more complex. The activity in the end of this lesson touches upon some key technologies employed in zero-emission vehicles, which may or may not become a significant part of the future transportation system. You get a chance to explore this question on your own and make your prediction.

Assignments for Lesson 10:
Type Assignment Directions Submit To
Reading Complete all necessary reading assigned in this lesson.

Based on reading Penalosa, E., Role of Transport in Urban Development Policy, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2005 (see page 10.3).

Formulate your vision of the sustainable urban community and share it on this lesson discussion forum. What are your most favorite and least favorite measures to undertake in order to modify the current transportation system? If you had a power of policymaking, what transportation model would you choose?

Comment on at least one other post on the forum. Response to any questions asked to your posts.

Deadline for initial posting: this Sunday, for comments: Wednesday.


Lesson 10 Discussion 


After reading sections 2.5 and 2.6 of the book, "Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013. (see page 10.2 of this lesson), perform independent investigation and compare three transportation options listed below:

  1. electric motor car powered by a Li-ion battery
  2. hydrogen-fueled fuel cell car
  3. regular gasoline car

Imagine that you need to take a road trip from New York to Chicago (~800 miles), and based on that scenario, evaluate the above transportation options by the following metrics:

  • total fuel / electricity consumption for the trip
  • operating emissions (CO2) during the trip
  • total well-to-wheel emissions (including electricity generation)
  • total cost of the trip (without cost of technology)

For this hypothetical case, you can assume that no maintenance is required to the cars during the trip (except for re-fueling/ re-charging). You can use approximated data as needed, but explain your assumptions.

Present your numerical results in the table. Show your calculations.

Provide a discussion to address the following question: Which type of electric vehicle in your opinion may have a better future – fuel cell or battery? Support your argument with some listed pros and cons and numbers. You can also say “both” or “neither” but provide proper argument. Make sure to provide proper citations for data sources.

Please see more details in the Lesson 10 Activity Sheet posted on Canvas

Deadline: Wednesday (before midnight).


Lesson 10 Activity

References for Lesson 10:

Battery University, Is Lithium-ion the Ideal Battery?, 2010, URL, accessed 2014.

PCSD, President's Council on Sustainable Development, Sustainable Communities, Task Force Report, 1997.

Popovich, N. and Lu, D., The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America, The New York Times, Oct. 10, 2019. URL, accessed 4/3/2020  

Rutsch, R, The Role of Public Transit in Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Community Development Code Research Monologue Series, The Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, 2008.

Sierra Club, U.S. Oil Dependence Threatens Security, Economy, Environment, accessed July 2014.

UITP, Advancing Public Transport; accessed 2014.

U.S. DOE, Transportation Fuels: The Future is Today, NEED 2007.