As the threat of climate change is gradually taking center stage, many people are wondering whether EVs or electric cars are eco-friendly or not. This option is considered as they seem to be a great solution. Electric cars are known to have zero emissions. But are the EVs worth it? Are the EVs really eco—friendly? It is important to talk about the options that do not harm the climate right now. From the decrease of sea ice to the increase of global warming the situation is becoming extreme. That is why researchers and scientists are trying to create eco-friendly products.
The cars release 72% of the Co2 emissions which is enough to harm the planet. That is why the market for electric cars is rising. Many popular companies like Tesla are focusing on manufacturing advanced electric cars. The other giant car brands are also following the trend.
When the people of the earth start to use eco-friendly cars then they can make the planet a better place to live. Here know if EVs are eco-friendly or not.
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Is the EVs greener than fossil-fueled cars?
The difference between conventional thermal cars and electric cars is their process of transforming the potential stored energy into kinetic energy. Thermal cars store energy in a chemical form. Then it releases the energy through chemical reactions found inside the engine. On the other hand, it has chemically stored energy but electrical cars are known to release it electrochemically without combustion. It works with the help of lithium-ion batteries. It means that there is no burning of fuel. So there is no air pollution through the Co2.
The EVs are also more efficient than fossil cars. But does it mean that EVs are greener? Not every time. If the source of energy to provide power to the cars does not come from solar panels, nuclear or hydroelectric then their C02 emissions will be high. If the electricity to power the cars comes from fossil fuels, the pollution is already released in a power plant.
Also read: Myths about Electric Vehicle
Is the manufacturing of EVs eco-friendly?
The process of manufacturing a car starts with the collection of raw materials. These are extracted, refined, and manufactured. Then the components are used to build the car. This process is the same in both thermal and electrical cars. But at the end of the process, the electric cars emit more carbon. Why is that?
It seems that the EVs store energy in large batteries. The larger the battery the more range it will have. It results in harming the environment. It is because the batteries are made with lithium, nickel, cobalt, or graphite. These elements are only found beneath the surface of the earth. Mining these elements results in pollution. That is why answering the question of whether EVs are eco-friendly is hard to answer.
For example, producing 1 ton of REE requires 75 tons of acid waste. After this, there are 1 ton of radioactive residues. Eventhough there are pollution issues, researchers are assuring that there is no need to worry. The worldwide resource of lithium is going to last for several years more according to the research. It will last even if the EV market triples. Also, the cobalt, graphite, and nickel are not going to get depleted soon. Although these look fine there is still a negative impact on the planet.
The energy required to produce EV batteries is also responsible for the negative environmental impact. Many sources say that electricity generation is improving and lots of renewable resources are used. It is helping to limit the ecological footprint of creating batteries. But creating renewable energy has an impact too. So in the end we have to be reasonable. On the whole, many consider EVs better alternative than conventional cars as it is eco-friendly.
What happens to batteries?
Some day in the future the users of electric cars will face an issue. After the lithium batteries run out there will be an influx of the used batteries. The companies like Lucid are already thinking about what happens to the used batteries. The current plan is that they will do these two things.
The first solution is to use the batteries for energy storage. This means the battery will get a second life. The other plan is to recycle the batteries. But both of these solutions come with a catch. The economic and business situations cannot be overlooked. But the first solution has good appeal. The used battery pack is calculated to retain 70 percent of the charging. So the batteries can be resold for use in home storage. They can also be used to maintain a micro-grid system. These are useful in California where large wildfires have caused electrical shutdowns.
Many experts like Sexton are sharing whether it is cost-effective to sell the used batteries when the price of new batteries starts to decrease. A user may not wish to buy used batteries without knowing about their efficacy. So the use of second-life batteries is not a question of technicality but economy.
The second option in the matter of used batteries is a new business. Recycling battery packs are now a limited scope. This is because most of the EVs are on road. But many have this question? “Will batteries made out of recycled materials be cheaper than batteries made out of virgin materials?”
But the definitive answer cannot be given now. President and CEO of Li-Cycle Ajay Kochhar shared that materials like cobalt, nickel, and aluminum can be used repeatedly. The Li-Cycle began operating in 2016 and became the first battery-specific recycling firm. It has its refining plants in Canada and US.
Kochhar shared “To our dismay, we were finding that batteries were being handled like waste, and materials like lithium were being lost”. The materials they use can be recycled and reused. Also, he added that the volumes are low and the process is long term. He thinks that at some time there is going to be a limit and that limit is materials.
We cannot say for clear whether EVs are eco-friendly or not. But with advancing innovations in the electronic cars industry lot of developments will be made to make it green.