Electric cars

Written by  //  August 30, 2017  //  Environment & Energy, Transportation  //  No comments

The future of automotive lithium-ion battery recycling: Charting a sustainable course
Lithium-ion batteries are starting to be used in significant quantities for automotive propulsion. Because these batteries are expected to last the life of the vehicle, they will not be ending their useful lives in large numbers for about 10 years. They may subsequently be used for utility energy storage, but eventually their useful lives will end. The question is, what steps can be taken to ensure that these spent Li-ion batteries are recycled. In an ideal system, these batteries would be sent for responsible recycling and not be exported to developing countries with less stringent environmental, health, and safety regulations. Methods are needed for the safe and economical transport and processing of the spent batteries, as well as environmentally sound recycling. In addition, the recycled product needs to be of high enough quality to find a market for its original purpose, or it must find an alternative market. Fortunately, a battery recycling system is in place that already works well, and many lessons can be learned from it. (Science Direct, December 2014)

30 August
When we all drive electric, government loses big time
(Ottawa Citizen) What we don’t hear about is the huge effect on federal and provincial revenues if the government’s rhetoric becomes reality and people turn to electric cars in large numbers. A big reduction in gas tax would seriously affect Canada’s ability to pay for roads but it would also undermine a top source of transit dollars.
Federal and provincial governments will collect $23.5 billion in gasoline and diesel taxes this year, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. In addition, they will take in nearly $1.8 billion in sales taxes.
Then there are the new carbon taxes. In an all-electric future, this whole pyramid of tax will collapse. Even a significant advance for electric cars will erode government tax revenues.
That will have the effect of also undermining governments’ transit plans. In Ottawa, for example, the LRT project is paid for primarily with federal gas tax money. Provincial gas tax dollars are also going into the project.

6 August
Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade
(Daily Mail) Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state [Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC}. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.
The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.
The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

The Guardian view on electric cars: they’ll change the world
Car drivers dream of freedom and autonomy but the future may be robotic public transport
(Guardian Editorial) The logical outcome of cars which need no driver is that they will become cars which need no owner either. Instead, they will work as taxis do, summoned at will but only for the journeys we actually need. This the future towards which Uber, another Silicon Valley firm that has attained an immense valuation despite almost breathtaking losses, is working. The ultimate development of the private car will be to reinvent public transport. Traffic jams will be abolished only when the private car becomes a public utility. What then will happen to our fantasies of independence? We’ll all have to take to electrically powered bicycles.

29 July
Here’s what we know about Tesla’s Model 3
(WaPost) The Model 3 — touted as the first “mass-market” electric car — will start at $35,000, reach 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and have a top speed of 130 miles per hour.
A Model 3 with every premium option would cost about $60,000, according to the latest details released by the company. The car has a range of 220 miles to 310 miles and has been designed to “have the highest safety ratings in every category,” the company said.
The long-range battery that allows for up to 310 miles of travel on a single charge and a top speed of 140 mph will cost an extra $9,000. Tesla said the Model 3’s standard battery provides a 220-mile range.
The Model 3 is equipped with eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors that assist the vehicle in avoiding collisions and performing automatic emergency braking.

Montreal’s Formula E kicks off to thin crowds, but picks up as race begins
The city paid at least $24 million to host the race, including the cost of building and dismantling the track, fees and salaries.
The Opposition Projet Montréal party has criticized Mayor Denis Coderre for spending $7.5 million on new concrete barriers to line the racetrack. The Coderre administration has also come under fire for distributing thousands of free tickets to the event.
The Société de transport de Montréal offered free rides on the métro, buses and Bixi bikes all weekend, forgoing an estimated $1.1 million in fares.

26 July
The UK will ban the sale of gas-guzzling cars and vans from 2040
(Quartz) The UK just became the newest member of the “ban all petrol cars” club, along with Norway, France, the Netherlands, and India. The British government has announced that sales of all petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040. The pledge was in response to pressure to show it is serious about cutting levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is linked to more than 20,000 deaths annually.
However, there are few details about how the policy will be implemented. Anti-pollution campaigners wanted more immediate regulations, such as clean-air zones that would levy charges on the most polluting vehicles. The government’s own figures suggest that poor air quality costs £2.7 billion ($3.5 billion) in lost productivity each year.

7 July
Globe editorial: Why subsidies for electric cars are a bad idea for Canada
(The Globe and Mail) This week, the Montreal Economic Institute put out a study on the costs and benefits of taxpayer subsidies for electric cars. They considered the logic of the huge amounts of money being offered to purchasers in the country’s two largest provinces. In Quebec, if you buy an electric vehicle, the government will give you up to $8,000; in Ontario, buying an electric car or truck entitles you to a cheque from the taxpayer of between $6,000 and $14,000. The subsidies are rich because the cars aren’t cheap.
Will putting more electric cars on the road lower greenhouse-gas emissions? Yes – in some provinces. But it all depends on how a province generates electricity. In places like Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Nunavut territory, where most electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, an electric car may actually generate more greenhouse gases than one running on traditional gasoline. The tailpipe of an electric vehicle may not have any emissions. But quite a lot of emissions may have been generated to produce the power that went to the socket that charged it.
A few years ago, University of Toronto engineering professor Christopher Kennedy estimated that electric cars are only less polluting than the gasoline vehicles they replace when the local electrical grid produces a good chunk of its power from renewable sources – thereby lowering emissions to less than roughly 600 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt hour.
Electric cars are currently expensive, and consequently not all that popular. Ontario and Quebec introduced those big subsidies in an attempt to get people to buy them. Those subsidies will surely put more electric cars on the road and in the driveways of (mostly wealthy) people. It will be a very visible policy – hey, look at all those electrics on the highway and at the mall!
However, that result will be achieved at great cost. According to the MEI, for Ontario to reach its goal of electrics constituting 5 per cent of new vehicles sold, the province will have to dish out up to $8.6-billion in subsidies over the next 13 years.
And the environmental benefits achieved? Again, according to the MEI estimate, that huge sum will lower the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions by just 2.4 per cent. If the MEI’s estimate is right, that’s far too many bucks for far too small an environmental bang.

22 June
Are Electric Vehicle Subsidies Efficient?
By Germain Belzile, Mark Milke
While Quebec and Ontario are trying to stimulate the sale of electric vehicles any way they can, an Economic Note published today by the MEI shows that subsidizing the purchase of such vehicles is the least efficient and most expensive way of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
(MEI) Ontario and Quebec have set ambitious targets aimed at reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs), respectively 37% and 37.5% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.(1) The transportation sector is crucial for achieving these ambitious targets, since it represents over a third of the emissions of each province.(2) These have therefore decided to implement, among other things, subsidies to electric vehicles. But is this injection of public funds the best use of our money?
The Footprint of an Electric Vehicle
Four factors influence the environmental impact of using an electric vehicle.(8) First, the greater the fuel consumption of the vehicle replaced, the bigger the positive impact. The principle is the same for annual mileage: The greater the distance travelled in a year in an electric car instead of a conventional car, the greater the reduction in GHG emissions. Third, we must take into account the emissions related to the electricity used to recharge the battery.
And finally, the environmental record of an electric vehicle must also be calculated over its entire lifecycle, including its manufacture. The latter produces on average 7.5 tonnes of GHGs, compared to 6.5 tonnes of GHGs for a traditional automobile.(9)
In all, the manufacture and operation of a gasoline-powered vehicle adds, over the course of a useful life of 10 years, 37.4 tonnes of GHGs to the atmosphere.(10) In Quebec, where electricity is produced almost entirely from hydropower, a fully electric vehicle will emit a total of 7.5 tonnes of GHGs (entirely associated with the manufacture of the car), versus 9.2 tonnes of GHGs for the same vehicle in Ontario, where electricity is not as “clean.”(11) The net emissions avoided by the use of a rechargeable electric car is therefore 28.2 tonnes of GHGs in Ontario, and 29.9 tonnes of GHGs in Quebec.

5 April
7 EV myths and misconceptions busted
REALITY: It’s true. If electric car batteries are destined only for the scrapyard at the end of their life in a vehicle, they are toxic waste. The good news is that there’s no need to throw them away. For starters, the metals they contain can be recovered in recycling programs. The process is complex, but the effort is worth it. Recycling reduces the need to mine and process raw materials, which helps reduce overall industrial emissions. In some cases, it also reduces the need to import materials, which is a benefit for the balance of payments in international trade in countries where the batteries are made.
The most intriguing opportunities, however, lie in finding new uses for old batteries. When a battery degrades to a point where owners aren’t satisfied with their car’s maximum range, it can still have up to about 70 per cent of its capacity. Researchers are now developing energy-storage techniques to make use of this. General Motors, for example, uses retired Chevy Volt batteries to store power at its facility in Milford, Michigan. Other groups are looking at ways to stack batteries for utility-scale storage of power from intermittent sources, such as wind and solar. Other ideas include using them to store off-peak or renewable power for warehouses, industrial refrigeration units and even homes.
One study by researchers at the University of Waterloo found that deploying old electric car batteries for energy storage could reduce carbon emissions by 56 per cent compared to natural gas generation. That figure, they say, is roughly equivalent to emissions avoided by switching from gas cars to electric cars, potentially doubling the environmental benefit of electric vehicles.

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