The present work aims at evaluating the environmental impact caused by fuel cell systems in the production of electric energy. The very low pollutant emission levels in fuel cells makes them an attractive alternative in ultra clean energy conversion systems. Actually, to truly understand the environmental impact related to fuel cells, it is necessary to study their “cradle-to-grave” life, from the construction phase, during the conversion of primary fuel into hydrogen, to its disposal. The tool used in this analysis is the Life Cycle Assessment approach; in particular the environmental impact of a fuel cell system has been simulated through the software SimaPro 5.0. Thanks to this approach, once the critical process regarding the production of energy by fuel cell system, (i.e. the production of hydrogen by natural gas steam reforming), has been determined, an analysis of the use of landfill gas as a renewable source to produce hydrogen was done. Finally, the production of electric energy by fuel cell systems was compared to that by some conventional energy conversion systems. A second comparison was done between the Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC) fuelled by landfill gas and natural gas.

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