Absolute proof that EVs pollute less no matter what their source of electricity

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by KentuckyKen, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Can we please once and for all drive a stake through the heart of the lie that EVs are not less polluting than gas or diesel cars depending on their source of electricity? Here’s an article about the proof straight from the Argonne National Laboratory (and if you can’t trust their scientific method, who can you trust?) that even a Tesla 100% powered by coal is cleaner and emits less CO2 than a gas powered car by far.


    And here’s the study’s abstract for all my fellow techno-weenies.

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  2. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Absolute. With a giant asterisk.

    This is just yet another article and study focused on propulsion fuel during ownership only, while completely ignoring the emissions involved in obtaining the raw material, and production, and transportation costs, of the giant battery needed to propel the electric car, the lifespan of that battery, the recycling/disposal costs and risks of said battery, etc...

    I was unaware there was any debate about propulsion fuel being cleaner. Indeed EVs are cleaner while the cars as on the road and in use. Even on coal. I will concede with no debate. It’s the before and after ownership costs that also need to be considered...and rarely are by EV proponents.

    And since this is a Clarity forum...I feel compelled to point out that PHEVs may be among the worst of the bunch. They not only create all the emmissions of producing a giant battery, but they also still need an ICE on board and therefore need to consider all the production costs and emissions of producing/recycling/disposing that chunk too...

    I don’t know all the answers. But I have a lot of questions. And that article and abstract both ignore a LOT.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  3. petteyg359

    petteyg359 Well-Known Member

    Are you attempting to argue that the one- (or two-) time production/disposal/reuse pollution costs of an EV's Lithium battery over the decade of life such batteries have are more than the perpetual costs of transportation of any other kind of fuel for the non-EV? That's a bit ridiculous.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  4. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member


    I think it is worth considering. And I don’t think it is ridiculous.

    As this is an EV forum, I doubt I’ll find many on my side of the thought process, and most of you will find my thought to be idiotic, so I’ll bow out here with no further comments while everyone else here supports each other’s thoughts.

    Just offering food for thought for the open minded, that I feel EV and PHEV enthusiasts should research further before just assuming they are actually improving the world somehow with a car purchase.

    Maybe we (yes me too...I own a PHEV) are obtaining a net gain on conception-to-grave carbon costs over a modern ICE car.

    But I am doubtful.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  5. Don’t forget the methane and other emissions from Tesla owners. It’s worse than cows.

    Personally, I believe the PHEV is the ultimate vehicle. I couldn’t care less what some study says about a carbon footprint. Outside of an occasional long trip, the Clarity will allow most people to reduce their gasoline consumption by 80-90%.

    A Tesla is a waste of lithium. Carry on.
  6. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Well, if you’re going to talk about cradle to grave life cycle environmental costs and not just propulsion, the only difference between an EV and a gas-mobile is the Li-ion battery pac. You would have to prove that over a 10 year life cycle that the Li-ion batteries would be worse than 10 years of constantly sourcing, delivering, and disposing of petroleum based fuels vs. a single event for the batteries. I don’t think that dog will hunt. And that’s before even considering the potential growth in recycling (of both raw materials and reuse in less demanding situations like energy backup) and the fact that grid energy not only has the potential to get cleaner but is demonstrably moving into a higher percentage of renewables. That will only further widen the environmental gap between EVs and gas-mobiles.

    You asked for more research. I provided it from a well respected national laboratory that publishes peer reviewed articles. Do you have any research to back up your life cycle claim or is it just speculation on your part? I agree that life cycle costs for any area are superior to only looking at fuel costs, but I can find no objective research that proves it worse for Li-ion batteries than for gasoline or diesel even with present conditions.
    And I agree with you that a PHEV will have less benefit than an EV, but if a significant amount of driving is EV instead of HV, it still can environmentally outperform a fossil fueled car even with its additional burden of having an ICE.
    PS: I enjoy your posts very much and hope you will continue to keep us all honest.
  7. petteyg359

    petteyg359 Well-Known Member

    There's a difference between "food" and "FUD". There's nothing to be open-minded about. That argument was tired and debunked by more than one comprehensive analysis years ago. EVs result in less pollution, regardless of what the power plant on the other end of the high voltage line is. All tangential costs are accounted for. They're better. Full stop.
    Ken7, Timothy and Lowell_Greenberg like this.
  8. DucRider

    DucRider Well-Known Member

    The carbon footprint ROI for an EV with a large battery is on average ~2 years. Really efficient examples like the Model 3 and the Ioniq are less, while something less efficient like the Rivian offerings will be slightly more.
    End of life (as a vehicle battery) is yet to be completely determined since few EV's have reached that stage, but re purposing as off grid storage or as a grid buffer is the trend and general plan. And EV lithium batteries are recyclable, but it will take a steady supply before it takes place on any scale.
    EV's also do not require oil changes (and leaks), brake pads (at least very, very rarely) and other miscellaneous wear items that ICE vehicles produce over their lifespan.
    Buying any new vehicle is not "improving the world", but choosing an EV over an ICE when making such a purchase most definitely has a lower impact over the life of the vehicle.
  9. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    In defense of PHEV. #1 The battery in the Clarity is much smaller than the typical pure EV. This means the manufacturing emissions are proportionately less. Studies much more broad and complete than the one quoted in this thread say EV cars spend the first few years making up for the manufacturing emissions. The Clarity makes up that defect much quicker due to the smaller battery. #2 Most owners, us included, report pure EV driving about 80% of the time. So the emissions the Clarity ICE produces are that much less than a pure ICE car. Then consider how the Clarity is charged. In our case for about 7 months of the year our solar system fully recharges the car. For the other 5 months it is a combination of grid + solar, and our local city electricity is produced with zero coal.

    Each situation is different but I wouldn't paint the Clarity as a bad choice. In many ways I think it may be the better choice for the environment.
    KentuckyKen and Al-clarity like this.
  10. ClarityBill

    ClarityBill Active Member

    Seems like that would not depend on years, but the number of oil-driven miles offset. An EV that is parked in a garage will never give a carbon footprint ROI. A Tesla that has to add miles to a recharging station would also have a penalty. Any data on miles for carbon ROI?

    Some high-mileage drivers are not interested in waiting at a charging station, so how did they come up with this 'average' ROI?

    The study does appear to ignore life-cycle costs, so it is interesting that it was cited as the closing argument.

    It is nice to have peer-reviewed studies, but if all the peers are asking the same questions, it is not much of a review.
  11. The New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services says a car that gets 24.8mpg and is driven 12,000 miles will produce 4.7 metric tons of CO2. That’s 10,358 pounds. Additionally, it will produce 555 lbs of CO and other hydrocarbons.
    Grand total=10,913 lbs.

    That same car will burn 484 gallons of gasoline to travel those 12,000 miles, which weighs roughly 6.3 pounds per gallon, for a total weight of 3048 lbs.

    Question #1, How can burning 3048 lbs of gasoline, in a modern, efficient engine produce 10,913 lbs of emissions?

    Question #2, Did the researchers use a similar figure in the aforementioned study?

    Question #3, Did their model assign the same lifespan to both the ICE and EV?

    Proposal #1, Can we drive a stake in the heart of the term ROI in the context of CO2 emissions?

    Question #4, Do EV owners also own an ICE vehicle?
  12. Timothy

    Timothy Active Member

    "Everyone has the right to their opinion." Favorite tshirt at FEIC.
  13. ClarityBill

    ClarityBill Active Member

    Carbon combining with Oxygen to make CO2 gives an emission about 3.6 times the weight of the fuel. Carbon combining with Oxygen to make CO gives an emission that is 'only' 2.3 times the weight of the fuel.

    Emissions are much heavier than the fuel because of the added oxygen that is chemically bound into the emissions.
    markc, Walt R, Al-clarity and 2 others like this.
  14. DucRider

    DucRider Well-Known Member

    Studies assume a set number of miles per year for both gas and electric vehicles when doing a comparison. High-mileage drivers will have a much shorter ROI, while indeed someone that never drives at all will never make up the difference.

    Where the car is charged has no "penalty". Studies compare electricity from the grid national average, and Tesla Superchargers get their power from the grid (or occasionally solar). These studies also completely ignore home solar charging and assume all charging is done from the grid. Someone with solar on their roof or that charges in a "green" grid area will produce less greenhouse gas from driving and therefore will also see a faster ROI. The inverse is true if you live in an area that relies more on coal (RMPA i.e.).
    For anyone interested in looking at the EPA grid emissions data used in these types of studies:

    Also worth noting that much of the data used is older (2104) and the grid is constantly getting cleaner.

    Really confused about the not waiting at charging stations comment and how that is related to GHG emissions from charging, but they come with the "average" by looking at the US grid GHG average and applying that to the average efficiency of an EV driven an average number of miles, then compare that to the average efficiency of a gas vehicle driven that same average number of miles and use the average GHG cost of producing the gas as well as the tailpipe emissions.

    Yes, driving pattern and where you charge or buy gas (i.e., tar sands oil is much dirtier to extract, process and has a lower yield) will impact your individual carbon footprint.

    Most of the weight comes from the "O" in CO2. (Oxygen from the air in the combustion process)
    Yes and Yes
    Apparently not. The "Long Tailpipe" argument just won't seem to go away.
    Some do, some don't.
  15. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    CO2 is one atom of carbon of atomic weight 12 and two atoms of oxygen of atomic weight 16 (32 total). That’s were the extra mass comes from. Yeah, I had to remember my long ago chemistry the first time I saw the large carbon emissions from a relatively small tank of gasoline. My first thought was, wait a minute, that can’t be right, but science says it is.

    Thanks to all; I am learning a lot from not only this thread but all the rest of forum too. Boy howdy, posting an article here is like chumming the waters but instead of sharks you get information.
    Dan McInerney likes this.
  16. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    EVs (BEVs and PHEVs)create some amount of emissions in their production and due to use of certain material. For arguments sake, let us assume this is more emissions then that goes into an ICE.

    ICE's cause emission due to operations. PHEV's should ideally cause less pollution during operation and EVs should cause minimal pollution during operation. However generation of the electricity to power the EVs could cause pollution. So far I do not think anyone would disagree with me. The argument is "Does the total emissions caused by EVs, (which includes the emissions for building the product and for operations of the product and emissions caused by electricity generation and transmission) greater than the emissions caused by the initial production and operations of a ICE.

    Now there are too many variables here and the direct cost equation does not take into account other costs. Let me give a few examples

    1. What are the emissions due to electricity generation? The answer is that it varies. It is reported that 20-30% of the electricity generation in Texas is from Wind, which is considered a non polluting source. In other states, most of the generation may be from fossil fuels. In Netherlands and other countries, alternative energy is the dominant source for electricity generation. So the answer will change from area to area, state to state, country to country. The authors of this study quoted says the source of energy does not matter, but it may in a local context.
    2. If we have to be complete in our analysis, we need to take into account not just the emission at the point of generation, but the total emissions for that source. Coal has to be mined (some emissions there), transported to the power plant (some emissions there) and then used to generate electricity (some emissions there). Crude oil has to be extracted (some emissions there), transported to the refinery (some emissions there may be from as far as the middle east), processed at the refinery (some emissions there) and then transported to the gas station near your house (some emissions there). With Solar for example it is a lot less. So selectively picking data will appear to prove your point but is not the whole picture. I have not seen a full life cycle analysis, but I would not be surprised if one exists.
    3. Location of power plants and efficiency of operations. Power plants can be centralized and moved closer to the raw material sources and transmitted efficiently. So there is a natural efficiency. Due to the de-centralized use of ICE's there are lot more losses. Again, when calculating the future, one needs to account for that i.e. you can build more efficient mass electricity production sources. Gas consumption by definition is localized.
    4. Finally, ecology and health. A power plant in rural Arizona may pollute, but due to the absence of other polluting sources, the emissions have a chance to dissipate without much health or environmental damage. In a big city, with tens of thousands of ICE's throwing emissions into the air at the same time, nature cannot handle it easily. They had to ban private cars in Beijing during the Olympics. Recently there were articles about the unhealthy air in New Delhi. People may forget in the 1950's and 60's LA had the worst air in the country. It is better but even today LA has the worst smog in the country (https://laist.com/2018/10/03/take_a_deep_breath_and_read_about_how_bad_la_smog_really_is.php). How does one put a cost to the increase health risks, the incidence of Asthma and COPD etc?

    So here is my 1 -c- (may not be worth 2)

    1. Some one said that there are three types of lies: lies, dammed lies and statistics. You can take the numbers and crunch them the way you want, but that does not change the fact there is a real problem with emissions and that we need to do something about.
    2. A through analysis of the impact of EVs on emissions, has many factors to consider. Most studies take into account a few, not because they do not want to but it is difficult to obtain all the data or the data may not be available. Also, we may not need to consider all factors. A limited number of factors may be sufficient to provide a good enough answer for decision making. I see people coming with very definitive projections, even though they may have many assumptions.
    3. A lot of the analysis has to be based on local conditions. What may make sense in Orange County, CA, may not make sense in Daniels County, Montana (considered the most rural county in the US)
    4. That said, there are very good economic and associated arguments for why EV usage should be encouraged, but it does not mean that a blanket economic justification can be made. As they say "Your mileage will vary" (pun intended).
  17. Ken7

    Ken7 Active Member

    Ah yes, the disdain for EV continues. A waste of lithium? If you owned one I sincerely doubt your refrain would be the same. Ignorance is not always bliss.
  18. How were you able to determine the “lifetime” of both vehicles was the same?

    I did not see that information in either the article or the abstract.
  19. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member Subscriber

    There are other detrimental environmental effects of mining and using oil and coal besides carbon emissions. I’m not anti-mining because we have to have raw materials to make things. But in the energy sector, it’s not just emissions that need to be counted. Anyone who has seen the tar sands areas, open pit coal mining operations, dealt with oil spills, lived near coke disposal sites, seen a lake die of acid rain, or cleaned up leaking underground storage tanks understand the serious risks if mining and use of fossil fuels is done poorly. It can be done well, it just costs a lot more money. In the end, my only point in this post is to consider more than just carbon emissions, even though that’s the “big one”.
  20. Let’s not leave out the detrimental effects caused by our hunger for electricity.

    Wildfires started by failed power distribution equipment have caused hundreds of fatalities, destroyed thousands of homes and burned millions of acres of forests.

    The source of generation is irrelevant.

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