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Air quality impacts from the electrification of passenger vehicles in the U.S.

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Date and time Apr 01, 2019
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Location MP606
Host Charlie White

Jordan Schnell

Northwestern University
https://www.earth.northwestern.edu/our-people/post-doctoral-fellows/schnell-jordan.html

Air quality impacts from the electrification of passenger vehicles in the U.S.

A central strategy in achieving greenhouse gas mitigation targets is the transition of vehicles from internal combustion engines to electric power. However, due to complex emission sources and nonlinear chemistry, it is unclear how such a shift might impact air quality. Here we apply a prototype version of the new-generation NOAA GFDL global Atmospheric Model, version 4 (GFDL AM4) to investigate the impact on U.S. air quality from an aggressive conversion of internal combustion vehicles to battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs). We examine a suite of scenarios designed to quantify the effect of both the magnitude of EV market penetration and the source of electricity generation used to power them. We find that summer surface ozone (O3) decreases in most locations due to widespread reductions of traffic NOx emissions. Summer fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases on average and largest in areas with increased coal-fired power generation demands. Winter O3 increases due to reduced loss via traffic NOx while PM2.5 decreases since larger ammonium nitrate reductions offset increases in ammonium sulfate. The largest magnitude changes are simulated at the extremes of the probability distribution. Increasing the fraction of vehicles converted to EVs further decreases summer O3, while increasing the fraction of electricity generated by “emission-free” sources largely eliminates the increases in summer PM2.5 at high EV adoption fractions. Ultimately, the number of conventional vehicles replaced by EVs has a larger effect on O3 than PM2.5, while the source of the electricity for those EVs exhibit greater control on PM2.5.

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