Can fleet electrification benefit air quality and human health?
Guest Speaker: Dr. Yunsoo Choi
Associate Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston
The transportation sector drives economic development and enhances the quality of life for humans but is also a significant source of air pollution. Vehicular traffic emits fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and contributes to the formation of surface ozone. Both ozone and PM2.5 are known to be harmful to human health, causing premature deaths and both severe and minor morbidities (e.g., hospital admissions and asthma exacerbations).
The population of the Houston Area is expected to grow by 50% by 2040 with respect to 2013, thus potentially leading to a significant increase in passenger travels and freight activity to meet the needs of the growing population. On-road vehicle traffic, which includes trucks and passenger vehicles, is predicted to increase 30%-80% by 2040.
Therefore, with an increase in both population and on-road vehicles, transportation-related emissions would likewise increase. In a previous study, our group developed future projections (to 2040) for on-road mobile emissions and evaluated several scenarios with varying levels of emission control and fleet electrification.
In the complete turnover scenario, where the entire fleet utilizes emissions control or electrification, results suggest a ~95% reduction in both NOx (an important precursor of ozone) and PM2.5 leading to substantial health benefits from ozone and PM2.5 exposure, respectively. In contrast, the business-as-usual case would lead to numerous premature deaths. These findings have shed light on how fleet electrification and new technologies can impact the regional air quality and human endpoints.