Electric vehicles VS thermal engine vehicles (environmental facts) : part 1
Some individuals believe that electric vehicles are considered to be completely clean cars because there are no emissions of polluting gases during their operation and that they are incomparable with thermal engine vehicles. However, in reality, this subject is more complicated than it seems at first glance.
It’s better to commence from some facts for both types of vehicles (fuel sources, manufacturing, and fuel consumption) and to generate a conclusion.
Firstly, electric cars are harmful to the environment.
One of the biggest arguments against electric vehicles is battery production for an EV (electric vehicle). It is completely detrimental for the environment than the production of internal combustion vehicles; so is that true? The answer is yes. The internal footprint of current electric vehicle production is greater than the production of internal combustion engines.
The EVs large batteries are made of lithium that need to be mined like most of the raw materials. The mining process produces lots of greenhouse gases. It’s an acute problem that is going to increase unless the manufacturing process becomes more efficient.
Sales of EV topped two million per year for the first time in 2017. Some estimates predict that there will be more than 125 million EVs by the year 2030 on the road and those vehicles may need batteries. Lithium is in high demand and it all has to come from somewhere. It takes on average about eight to ten metric tons of CO2 to produce an EV. Obviously, the bigger the battery, the more CO2 it takes to produce it. Some smaller batteries in economy size EVs may take as few as two metric tons to produce, but larger EVs with long-range batteries could be responsible for up 17 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
Conversely, the average production of an internal combustion vehicle produces around seven metric tons of CO2. Why does EVs production lead to a bigger environmental footprint?
More than half of the world’s lithium supply comes from the quote, lithium triangle. It’s an area between Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina in the arid salt-plains of the Atacama desert, high up in the Andes mountains. These workers drill through the crust of the salt to get the mineral-rich brine below the surface. This process leaches massive amounts of groundwater from the surrounding area resulting in a decreased water supply and less accessible water for local agriculture.
In a region of Chile called Salar de Atacama, mining companies have used 65% of the region’s water. It takes 750 tons of brine to produce one ton of lithium. But lithium is just one of the components of a battery, it’s actually has a smaller percentage – approximately 6%.
A growing concern surrounds the sourcing of another element used in batteries: cobalt. The issue is in an ethical dilemma as some cobalt mining use child labor, which is reprehensible.
Afterward, there is the problem of recycling batteries. The process in which lithium-ion batteries are recycled does not at the point it needs to be to deal with the growing number of spent batteries from EVs.
There are plenty of different challenges associated with recycling batteries.
Another problem that storage becomes a huge issue because of the volatility of the elements in a lithium battery. They already possess a number of fires in facilities that process old batteries.
Is the number of potentially catastrophic fires and explosions going to increase as more batteries are stockpiled in the future? It all depends on how quickly the industry will deal with these issues.
The fact of the matter is modern electric vehicle production is in its relative infancy compared to gas engines. The new processes will be renewed, the environmental impact will get better. Nowadays, many regions are still getting their power for coal, fuel, and nuclear power-plants, so the impact of driving a zero-emission car in those regions is more detrimental to the environment than driving an EV in a place with clean energy, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power-plants.
But as these types of energy become more common, the efficiency at which an EV operates will get better. To conclude above all of the enormous problems of electric vehicle production, how it could be compared with the internal combustion engine?