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Do Electric Cars add More Pollution?

December 27, 2014

Why Your All-Electric Car May Not Be So Green

I’ve always heard that switching to electric simply moves the problem elsewhere (hence, to the coal-using power plants), but that’s still an improvement in ways. You’re taking the fumes off of the roads where most of us directly are, and while the coal fumes may still be going into the air (and worse than gas fumes, as being argued), you’ve still centralized the pollution, and that makes it easier to try to remedy. You would then look into reducing waste in those plants (like switching to natural gas, as mentioned), instead of all the cars running across the land. (This other article mentions “Electric cars that get their power from renewable energy sources — like wind or solar” I take could also be referring to new power plants).

Plus, how much more would electric powered vehicles really increase the pollution put out by these plants? It’s not like the plants are only being run for the EV’s; they are already there, powering everything else electric. So there would put an increased need for coal, but would that amount then add more pollution than all the fossil fuel vehicles combined?

  1. Besides pure electric cars, other power sources of interest are air and water. One version of water technology getting some attention is salt water:

    Again, there is criticism that it is not really helping our energy problem:

    The difference from fresh water engines, is that those “the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen, then using that hydrogen as fuel, burning it back with oxygen to make energy and water”, which takes more energy than it puts out. The salt water engine “uses salt water solutions to store electrolytes that can undergo reactions to produce electricity.”

    It’s just a battery using the water with special “metallic salts” as the electrolyte, instead of sulfuric acid like regular batteries. Thus, “The electrolyte fluids in the nanoflowcell would also have to be recharged, and this energy would have to come from somewhere (such as a power plant) like any other battery.”

    But that just brings us back to the above point; that the power plants are already running, and buying more power from them, to run these cars, may increase their pollution a bit, but it takes it off of the roads and probably would not equal the total pollution of combustion-fueled cars.

  2. Electric Trainer Breaks the Flight Barrier

    “A small Denver, Colorado, manufacturer has rolled out the first prototype of a new all-electric aircraft, suggesting that the same revolution currently sweeping through the auto industry may soon become airborne.”

    Always wondered if they ever could have electric aircraft!

  3. I remember buying my first RC car – electric, it was something new at this time, 40 years ago maybe… the price was much lower than an ICE’s, but range and speed much lower ! it was also really quiet and less complicated to handle for a kid !

    About pollution, a recent European study compares both, and explains that you need to drive an EV at least 50 to 100,000 kilometers before it becomes greener than the equivalent gas or diesel car : these are average values, conditions may vary a lot from place to place, kind of power plants, etc. and this is for small EV’s, Tesla’s larger batteries could be worse….

    Another article about issues with mining for nickel, lithium, etc

    Not sure these articles are 100% independent and correctly sourced, but the conclusion is apparently that EV’s are not yet systematically more friendly for the environment. The greener the energy source and the smaller the battery the better, and short and frequent urban drives are ideal. If your annual mileage is very low, your battery may need to be replaced before it offsets its manufacturing’s emissions !

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