Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

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Thread: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

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    Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    New report issued by Swiss government research lab EMPA, titled Contribution of Li-Ion Batteries to the Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles. The Swiss boffins, having done some major research into the environmental burdens of making and disposing of li-ion batteries - to add to the established bodies of work on existing cars - say that battery manufacture and disposal aren't that big a deal. However, in today's world, with electricity often made by burning coal or gas, a battery car is still a noticeable eco burden:

    The main finding of this study is that the impact of a Li-ion battery used in [a battery-powered car] for transport service is relatively small. In contrast, it is the operation phase that remains the dominant contributor to the environmental burden caused by transport service as long as the electricity for the [battery car] is not produced by renewable hydropower ...

    A break even analysis shows that an [internal combustion engined vehicle] would need to consume less than 3.9 L/100km to cause lower [environmental impacts] than a [battery car] ... Consumptions in this range are achieved by some small and very efficient diesel [cars], for example, from Ford and Volkswagen.

    Original article @ The Register

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    I finally have to agree with the Swiss.

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    So let me get this strait the reports claim that a battery powered vechile recharged through non renewable fuels is equal to an IC engine getting 3.9L/100Km's (60 US MPG).

    You know what I can agree with that. Thankfully I live in an region where 82% of my power comes from Nuclear or renewable fuels.

    And how many cars get 60MPG?

    So this study in a nutshell is saying that a sub micro diesel manual can be better than a mid sized electric car in a land that produces 100% of it's electricity from fossil fuels. Not to mention they neglect the fact that Li-ION batteries are recyclable. I can agree with that. But it's certainly not a fair comparisson (apples to oranges).
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    So the swiss study (link) assumes an EV needs 17kWh to travel 100km (62 miles).
    The Volt can go 40 miles on 8.8kWh.
    The Leaf can go 100 miles on less than 24kWh. Let's assume the Leaf uses 90% of it's 24kWh charge to get the stated 100 mile range.

    "Swiss EV": 3.65 miles/kWh
    Volt: 4.55 miles/kWh
    Leaf: 4.63 miles/kWh

    So the "Swiss EV" is 25% less efficient than both the Volt and the Leaf.

    So, to be better than a Chevrolet or Nissan EV, a diesel would need to do 25% better than the 3.9 L/100km it needed to beat the "Swiss EV". That works out to 2.9 L/100km. Anybody know of a diesel that manages that?

    And keep in mind this comparison is between first-generation EVs and diesels that have been refined and tuned for many decades. So, a few safe bets:
    1. EVs will improve much more than diesels over the next 10 years
    2. Electricity generation will continue to get cleaner for the foreseeable future

    So... my conclusions based on all of this are:
    1. EVs are already more efficient than even the stingiest diesels (and perform better than said stingy diesels).
    2. The eco-friendliness lead of EVs over diesels will grow considerably over the next 10 years.
    3. The Swiss make lousy EVs.
    Last edited by emh; 08-31-2010 at 08:56 PM.
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Meh, I wonder if it includes big ones.
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Electricity has to come from somewhere

    Let's be a little silly and say that 100% of people right now this minute stopr driving cars powered by fossil fuels and go to battery powered electric cars

    All of them go to charge them all at once and asuming the grid doesnt collapse under the strain the fuel burnt to produce that electricity would produce more polution than the cars burning fossil fuels

    Cars have a huge amount of restrictions placed on them to comply with enviromental rules but a lot of our electricity is still produced with dirty coal fired plants.

    The article has a point and it's a good one

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Electricity comes from a plug in the wall. How much cleaner can you get than that?
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    While I am in favour of properly-controlled nuclear fuel, it isn't a low-cost option - or necessarily a low-impact one, because treatment and disposal of water used in cooling towers etc has to be taken into account. Not only the technology and safeguards are expensive, but also the longterm management and storage of spent fuel. (Bear in mind they have nuclear-fuelled plants in Europe, too - si this would have been factored in.)

    The iissue in this is one of the reasons a Merc SLK 500 is rated as more economically-sustainable than a Prius. Not only the operation, but the environmental cost to operate and dispose of the components: the Merc is created from a higher porportion of recycled and recyclable materials (aluminium, plastics, steels) and created from lower-impact processes, which have to be identified on EU-source vehicles.
    Last edited by BBDOS CV8; 08-31-2010 at 09:48 PM.

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Quote Originally Posted by emh View Post
    So, to be better than a Chevrolet or Nissan EV, a diesel would need to do 25% better than the 3.9 L/100km it needed to beat the "Swiss EV". That works out to 2.9 L/100km. Anybody know of a diesel that manages that?
    Just read the article:
    environmental burdens of making and disposing of li-ion batteries - to add to the established bodies of work on existing cars - say that battery manufacture and disposal aren't that big a deal. However, in today's world, with electricity often made by burning coal or gas, a battery car is still a noticeable eco burden

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Quote Originally Posted by VS Ute 5Litre View Post
    Electricity has to come from somewhere

    Let's be a little silly and say that 100% of people right now this minute stopr driving cars powered by fossil fuels and go to battery powered electric cars

    All of them go to charge them all at once and asuming the grid doesnt collapse under the strain the fuel burnt to produce that electricity would produce more polution than the cars burning fossil fuels

    Cars have a huge amount of restrictions placed on them to comply with enviromental rules but a lot of our electricity is still produced with dirty coal fired plants.

    The article has a point and it's a good one
    While nearly 50% of the electricity in the US is generated by Coal fired plants, there are less than 650 such coal plants in the country. On the other hand, there are 62 million registered cars in the US and more than twice that many if you include unregistered vehicles. While we “try” to control the emissions from vehicles – 62 million sources that routinely move around make it difficult. On the other hand, we obviously know where every coal plant is located and who owns them. We "could" control the emissions from coal fired plants to almost any reasonable level we desired. It would cost more to do so - but electricity in California (one of the most expensive markets) is less than 1/3rd the cost of gasoline today (1/6th in most other parts of the country) so even if the cost of "more environmentally friendly" electricity doubled - we would still be paying less for electricity than gasoline. Of course, any increase in the price of electricity would ripple through the rest of our electric bill as well.

    The real answer is to begin to shift more and more of the supply from fossil fuel towards solar. One drive across the Western desert will convince anyone that there is more available, sun drenched, land than needed to supply all of the needed electricity for the nation. Low loss transmission lines and a way to store energy for night time use and inclement weather would need to be further developed, but solar is the end game.

    It might even be possible to use electric vehicle batteries to provide distributed storage and "pseudo-local generation" of electricity by charging the car using non-polluting solar during the day at work (while the sun was shinning) and plugging the car into the grid at night to help power your house.
    Last edited by edsuski; 09-01-2010 at 11:43 AM.

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Quote Originally Posted by edsuski View Post
    While nearly 50% of the electricity in the US is generated by Coal fired plants, there are less than 650 such coal plants in the country. On the other hand, there are 62 million registered cars in the US and more than twice that many if you include unregistered vehicles. While we “try” to control the emissions from vehicles – 62 million sources that routinely move around make it difficult. On the other hand, we obviously know where every coal plant is located and who owns them. We "could" control the emissions from coal fired plants to almost any reasonable level we desired. It would cost more to do so - but electricity in California (one of the most expensive markets) is less that 1/3rd the cost of gasoline today (1/6th in most other parts of the country) so even if the cost of "more environmentally friendly" electricity doubled - we would still be paying less for electricity than gasoline. Of course, any increase in the price of electricity would ripple through the rest of our electric bill as well.

    The real answer is to begin to shift more and more of the supply from fossil fuel towards solar. One drive across the Western desert will convince anyone that there is more available, sun drenched, land than needed to supply all of the needed electricity for the nation. Low loss transmission lines and a way to store energy for night time use and inclement weather would need to be further developed, but solar is the end game.

    It might even be possible to use electric vehicle batteries to provide distributed storage and "pseudo-local generation" of electricity by charging the car using non-polluting solar during the day at work (while the sun was shinning) and plugging the car into the grid at night to help power your house.
    Not disageeing with that at all it's a good plan

    I think Volt is a fantastic place to start but

    there's allways a but

    Firstly electicity supplies will have to get their act together and clean up the coal plants like you said

    Easiest way to do solar is have individual private homes and companies install the panels and feed back into the grid

    That takes the pressure off the grid as it has to cope with ever increasing demand.

    In Oz there is a government backed inititive to encourage homeowners and businesses to instal solar panels and recieve subsidies to reduce the cost of the install and then recieve feed in credits for what they don't use.

    When we build our new house we'll be going with solar and my parents are doing it to their home as we speak

    Got to be a good thing

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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Quote Originally Posted by VS Ute 5Litre View Post
    Electricity has to come from somewhere

    Let's be a little silly and say that 100% of people right now this minute stopr driving cars powered by fossil fuels and go to battery powered electric cars

    All of them go to charge them all at once and asuming the grid doesnt collapse under the strain the fuel burnt to produce that electricity would produce more polution than the cars burning fossil fuels

    Cars have a huge amount of restrictions placed on them to comply with enviromental rules but a lot of our electricity is still produced with dirty coal fired plants.

    The article has a point and it's a good one

    That's a dang good point.
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Quote Originally Posted by BBDOS CV8 View Post
    While I am in favour of properly-controlled nuclear fuel, it isn't a low-cost option - or necessarily a low-impact one, because treatment and disposal of water used in cooling towers etc has to be taken into account. Not only the technology and safeguards are expensive, but also the longterm management and storage of spent fuel. (Bear in mind they have nuclear-fuelled plants in Europe, too - si this would have been factored in.)

    The iissue in this is one of the reasons a Merc SLK 500 is rated as more economically-sustainable than a Prius. Not only the operation, but the environmental cost to operate and dispose of the components: the Merc is created from a higher porportion of recycled and recyclable materials (aluminium, plastics, steels) and created from lower-impact processes, which have to be identified on EU-source vehicles.
    Over the last 25 years here in Ontario, Canada Coal has about the same cost as Nuclear. Sure Nuclear has higher up front capital costs but the maintanence costs are far less.

    Second again I can't see why people neglect the fact that Li-ION batteries can be effectivly recycled. NIMH batteries used in the Prius to some extent can also be recycled but not as well as a Li-ION battery.
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Quote Originally Posted by VS Ute 5Litre View Post
    Electricity has to come from somewhere

    Let's be a little silly and say that 100% of people right now this minute stopr driving cars powered by fossil fuels and go to battery powered electric cars

    All of them go to charge them all at once and asuming the grid doesnt collapse under the strain the fuel burnt to produce that electricity would produce more polution than the cars burning fossil fuels

    Cars have a huge amount of restrictions placed on them to comply with enviromental rules but a lot of our electricity is still produced with dirty coal fired plants.

    The article has a point and it's a good one
    Cars like the Chevrolet Volt use as much electricity as a refridgerator. And it will be mostly during off peak hours when electricity demand is low.

    In the 1950's when everybody started buying refridgerators (and other electrical appliances) was there mass hysteria with the electrical grid. No utilities put in a plan to meet the demand with little to no issues.
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    Re: Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

    Biodiesel is much less energy demanding than making Ethanol which has to be distilled!!! They forget all the energy used during the manufacturing process of the hybrid battery packs. Electric vehicles will only flourish in Metro and cities where the daily range is less than 100 miles. In the snow belt, Midwest and out west we will not make it with a battery vehicle.

    The US Government needs to be voted out, the alienation of diesel is absurd. There will be no ONE answer to alternative fuel, merely a mixture of 3-4 technologies I will predict. Seriously what is not to like with a light SUV, station wagon or sedan that is capable for 40+ per gallon of diesel. This price gouging on diesel is also BS, it is the bi product of oil refining. In Europe where diesel consumption is much much higher than the US, it is just a hair cheaper than the lowest grade of gas even after all taxes are added.

    The US needs to get its ducks in a row.
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