Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Public Policy


Jay Whitacre

Second Advisor

Jay Apt


Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) may become a substantial part of the transportation fleet on time scales of a decade or two. This dissertation investigates battery degradation, and how the introduction of PHEVs may influence the electricity grid, emissions, and petroleum use in the US. It examines the effects of combined driving and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) usage on the lifetime performance of relevant commercial Li-ion cells. The loss of battery capacity was quantified as a function of driving days as well as a function of integrated capacity and energy processed by the cells. The cells tested showed promising capacity fade performance: more than 95% of the original cell capacity remains after thousands of driving days worth of use. Statistical analyses indicate that rapid vehicle motive cycling degraded the cells more than slower, V2G galvanostatic cycling. These data are used to examine the potential economic implications of using vehicle batteries to store grid electricity generated at off-peak hours for off-vehicle use during peak hours. The maximum annual profit with perfect market information and no battery degradation cost ranged from ∼US$140 to $250 in the three cities. If the measured battery degradation is applied, however, the maximum annual profit decreases to ∼$10–120. The dissertation details the increase in electric grid load and emissions due to vehicle battery charging in PJM and NYISO with the current generation mix, the current mix with a $50/tonne CO2 price, and this case but with existing coal generators retrofitted with 80% CO2 capture. It also models emissions using natural gas or wind+gas. PHEV fleet percentages between 0.4 and 50% are examined. When compared to 2020 CAFE standards, net CO2 emissions in New York are reduced by switching from gasoline to electricity; coal-heavy PJM shows somewhat smaller benefits unless coal units are fitted with CCS or replaced with lower CO2 generation. NOX is reduced in both RTOs, but there is upward pressure on SO2 emissions or allowance prices under a cap. Finally the dissertation compares increasing the all-electric range (AER) of PHEVs to installing charging infrastructure. Fuel use was modeled using the National Household Travel Survey and Greenhouse Gasses, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation model. It was found that increasing AER of plug-in hybrids was a more cost effective solution to reducing gasoline consumption than installing charging infrastructure. Comparison of results to current subsidy structure shows various options to improve future PHEV or other vehicle subsidy programs.