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Edison2 Wins $5M X Prize

3030 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  david85
Winning car wins on use of lightweight materials, and superior aerodynamics.

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I imagine the environmental effects are based on LCA studies of the various "fuels" used. Effects of Electricity is highly variable based on the Fuel used to generate it. For Example. Driving an electric car on the East coast of the US actualy has higher CO2 emissions then driving a similar sized car on gasoline. This is because the electricity on the East cost is largely based on Coal and fossil fuels. Coal is extremely dirty so even though the "effcency" of the powerplant is higher on a thermodynamic basis the emissions are significantly higher in kg/MWhr basis, leading to higher CO2 emissions for the electricar, even though the overall effcency is higher. However if the electricity is generated with natural gas or from renewables the emissions are significantly less the the gasoline car.
Also keep in mind that modern Gasoline cars are actualy quite clean in terms of emissions due to the Catalyic converters and increased emissions standards, so if you are getting your electricity from a dirty source is actualy quite hard to beat gasoline cars. But if you compare to the emissions of say, a lawn mower electric cars are much better because the emissions from small engines are not regulated nearly as much as vehicles.
 

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Here is the figure I was refering to. I beleive this is Mega grams of CO2 over the life of the vehicle. Notice that EV's have higher CO2 emissions in the manufactor because of the batteries and other components are more CO2 intensive. Where as the CO2 emissions for the use portion is highly variable based on the source of the electricity.

 

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Hi. Great info! From the chart, I see that EVs are cleaner than gasoline vehicles. But you point is that it depends on where you drive it - or where you get your electricity from.
Yeah, as you can imagine. LCA studies are extremely complicated and are highly dependant on the assumptions make. Thing like location of the study are huge. Keep in mind that CO2 isn't the only thing that counts. Things liek Acid Forming emissions and Particulate matter emissions, human health incidcators etc all play a role.

It had been a while since I looked at this LCA and Must had remembered EV's being worse wrong, I must have been thinking to that EV's were worse then Hybrids not straight ICE. I woudl also argue that Coal based EV and Gasoline are probably within the margin of error of this study and are comparable. Also note this is probably looking at Anthracite Coal and not the even dirtier varities like Bitumus and Lignite.

But anyway you got the point, source of the electricity is important for EVs.


My point earlier is that, unlike the ICE vehicle, you can change the source of your electricity for the EV and that should have been accounted for when determining the winner. Otherwise you can just move the competition next to a PV array generator and EVs would win every time or have it next to a coal power plant and the ICE would win. We know this and can understand why the ICE won but the headlines in this 15 min news cycle world we live in say "ICE is cleaner than EV" and that's not the entire story.

JR
You're entirely correct, however in pratical stance people don't generaly have control over the electrons the enter thier house from the grid. That is the up to the government and the Utilities to decide what kind of plant they build and where. You could of coarse do a net metering approach with PV or wind... but again the practicality isn't really there for most people.

What people do have control over in reality is the vehicle they choose to buy and drive, and frankly if you live in the coal powered state you are better off buying a Hybrid then a straight EV from an environmental aspect.

The fact of the matter is that the mass market EV's will be powered from the grid and therefor the impacts from the grid as a whole need to be weighed against the other fuels, like Natural gas or Gasoline.


Another point is that a power plant generating electricity keeps the nasties away from people best. ICE cars spread their pollution everywhere and right next to the air you're breathing. I rather be trapped in a tunnel with EVs than with ICE cars any day.
yep you are correct, but again ICE vehicle emissions are really pretty clean, crap you can't hardly even kill your self by sealing yourself in the garage with a running car anymore the catalyic converters are really quite effective. I would rather be trapped in the tunnel with an ICE vehcile then lawn mower any day. If you want to really go after nasty's in the neighborhood go for electric lawn mowers and weed eaters.
 
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