are electric engines bad for the air due to production costs?

I have been doing a bit of study on electric engines and though they di seem promising a few problems seem to arise.

let me explain. electric engines come from raw materials. materials like copper and that is a limited resource. most copper mines are strip mines that destroy landscapes and the landscapes are changed forever. should his be a problem?

now, what about the power the electricity comes from. what do we do? if we started putting all our cars on the grid, the grid as soon as possible, it would seem the grid couldnt handle such a strain even when we put the grid to wind and solar. anybody against type 4 reactors?

and then the problem of limited range, how do we inporve it?

what do we do about those problems

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  • John W
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A lot of energy does go into refining the metals used to make an electric engine but these are also the materials that are most easily recycled. The expenditure of energy in making an electric vehicle is essentially a capital expense, i.e.: a one time affair.

    However, after that the car is at best carbon neutral if the energy comes from clean energy sources.

    Batteries are very poor ways of storing energy chemically, not only are the chemicals used inefficient at accepting, storing and discharging energy but you carry the spent products of the reactants around with you till you can recharge them. The volumetric energy density of batteries is very low, maybe 250 Wh/l whereas the energy stored chemically in gasoline is about 9,000 Wh/l and the energy stored in gasoline is stable for far longer than the energy stored in batteries, with gasoline, some of the reactants are from the atmosphere and do not have to be carried by the car and the products of the reactions are just emitted to the atmosphere instead of carried around as well. In theory, you can make a battery based on oxidation of gasoline and indeed that is the holy grail of fuel cell research (fuel cells are batteries where some of the reactants are from the atmosphere and the products of the reactions are expelled to the atmosphere). The only reason why fuel cells use pure hydrogen and pure oxygen is that it's the simplest form of fuel cell and we haven't figured out how to deal with byproducts of using hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxygen air in the fuel cells. At least not yet, methanol fuel cells are now commercially available and microbial fuel cells are being deployed by the military in the deep seas.

    Now everyone always thinks of fuels like gasoline and diesel as being fossil fuels and what we have now are refined from fossil reserves as that is the cheapest way of making them but it's not the only way. Gasoline and diesel can be synthesized from carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases which can in turn be obtained in commercial quantities by gasification which works with almost anything that burns including trash and dried sewage. Indeed that's how we currently get hydrogen, by gasification and steam reformation of natural gas or coal.

    Synthetic gasoline and diesel can also be derived directly from CO2 and H2O as Sandia Labs has done with solar power. Of course, it doesn't have to be solar, it could be wind, hydro, biomass, nuclear or whatever else we have available (note Sandia Labs has an interest in finding niches for nuclear power). When synthetic fuels are made by gasification of biomass, not only is the entire plant used (not just the grain or fruit) or trash and dried sewage used but charcoal is produced as a byproduct which can be sequestered as biochar resulting in the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Synthetic gasoline can be carbon negative.

    A carbon neutral vehicle will never amortize the environmental impact of it's manufacture but your gas guzzler could if we just changed how we make our fuels. Unfortunately, synthetic fuels would mean more expensive fuels such that $4 US a gallon would no longer be the record maximum price but would become the minimum price.

    It isn't that electric vehicles are bad for the air, they just don't do any good either while we can achieve not only the benefits of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles but also benefit the environment without changing a single vehicle, just change how we make the fuel and be prepared to pay the higher price for that fuel.

  • fred
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    raw materials in electric motors are "pure" and can be relativly easily recovered at the end of life and used again; toyota already have processes in place for this.

    Infernal combustion requires complicated alloys and composites to cope with high temperature and preasure and wear, and contamination by oil etc, so are just scrap.

    The electric motors are smaller and lighter and use les raw material than infernal combustion engines, iron mining is just as destructive as copper. The radiator and fuel pipes in an infernal combustion probably has as much copper as an electric motor; plus rare platinum in the catalyctic converter; complex gear boxes & clutches ...

    Electric cars have the capability to make the grid more efficient by balancing load - charge overnight and sell back at peak demand (vehicle to grid http://www.udel.edu/V2G/).Most studies in the US & EU indicate the grid can take the strain, indeed using cars as distributed storage is essential to enable variable renewable systems to deliver. Because electric motors are more efficient and the electric can be delivered straight to your car by a very efficient grid the require much less primary fuel than fossil fuel cars.

    The range is limited by your imagination. The mind set of queueing once a week at a smelly petrol station rather than topping up each time you park is one issue. If you need to travel more than a typical 200 mile range, then a 10 minute recharge while you have a coffee break is simple. or if you really need to keep going without a break then tow a trailer like the long ranger http://www.scribd.com/doc/19182287/Genset-Trailer-...

    These are not problems but opportunites,

    Unfortunatly having wasted all the oil on driving there will be little left for tyres, plastics, road surfaces, emergency vehicles and all the other infrastructure required for electric cars in the future

  • 4 years ago

    What's with this "leftist" hogwash, mate? We on the right value the potential of that technology too. And I'm enough of a scientist that I can tell you your Daily Mail bit ignores several important points regarding electric car technology that indeed make it a hell of a lot more environmentally friendly than are internal combustion engines. Remember, the Mail does not exist to tell you the truth, it exists to make money for its owners - and if bending the truth and leaving out other truths gives you a false impression - oh well, you bought the paper and that's all they care about. The best use I can find for the Daily Mail is to line the bottom of me pigeon coops!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    This is the problem nobody wants to see with alternative fueled cars. Raw materials are available in space in almost unlimited quantities as is energy that would be almost free but for the energy company funded green freaks that keep nuclear and space based solar off the market so the only plants they allow to be built are coal or gas fired. All problems can be solved if the available technology could be applied to solve them. The real problem is the environmentalists and the global warming freaks that would lose their funding if real solutions could be restored to action.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator

    http://www.nss.org/settlement/ColoniesInSpace/inde...

    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/

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  • 1 decade ago

    your concerns that our current electric grid could not supply the demand are legitimate.

    in addition, although the metals used in the manufacture of electric motors are not rare, the minerals & rare earths used for the production of battery's & electronic controls are in very limited supply.

    over 90% of some these minerals come from China & China has reduced the export of some of them each year for the past 3 years.

    here are a couple of news reports about this shortage of materiel's.

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20090901/tsc-uk-mining...

    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/busin...

  • 1 decade ago

    Not to mention Electro-Pollution.

    You should read up on that too. The electric car itself could be better for the environment but not better for us. I think that electric cars are just a fad and will disappear as soon as the hydrogen-on-demand idea is figured out. Once they can easily transmute Aluminum Oxide back to Aluminum easily and without the need for Gallium, We're all set.

    But that could be years from now. -Who knows.

  • 1 decade ago

    No not really, if used clean green electric where there is no waste of fossil fuel. Electric cars when ran on electric energy does not release gas.

    Good Luck

    Ed

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