HomeEducationSustainability EducationGCC 3011/5011: Pathways to Renewable EnergyHow will the EV industry be effective on the environment in future?

How will the EV industry be effective on the environment in future?

By Seongu Ji, GCC 3011 student

It is easy to check that electrical vehicles (EV) are the most popular topic in the industries because one of the largest markets in the world is the automobile market and EV is rapidly taking over the next chapter of the vehicle industry. EV has a lot of advantages to be replaced from gasoline vehicles, and the main part of the advantages is the exhaustion of fossil fuels and reduction of carbon emissions. However, “Is EV really effective to reduce carbon emissions compared to gasoline vehicles” is always a popular topic in dispute. It will be helpful to understand this topic with several facts that are found in research and statistics.

Electrical Vehicles vs Gasoline Vehicles

The most controversial idea toward EV is that manufacturing a typical electric car produces a larger amount of carbon emissions than an electric car running. Lithium-ion batteries that are the most essential batteries to operate EV create more carbon emissions than gasoline vehicles from the production process. However, the total CO2 emissions calculated in the life-cycle of a car comparing  EV and gasoline cars need to be discussed to compare the total amount of CO2 emission. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, they found EVs have much lower CO2 emission production based on a lifetime mileage of 93,000 miles after comparing an average conventional car, an efficient internal combustion car, and an EV. Since the average life expectancy of conventional vehicles is expected to be 200,000 miles but EVs have 300,000 miles. Total amount of CO2 that is created by EV is much lower than Gasoline vehicles.   

The table shows that EV has much lower life-cycle emissions over 150,000 km. Also, the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) found that EV produces only 4,091 lb of CO2 annually, that is not even a half of the CO2 production from gasoline cars, which is 11,435 lb of CO2.

How does the EV industry need to approach the environment in a greener way in future?

The project team, BaTech is a project business model that brought an idea of recycling the Li-ion batteries. The Li-ion batteries are the primary source of the batteries for the EV, and the demands of the Li-ion batteries are rapidly increasing due to the high growth of the EV industry. However, the problem is current recycling processes are not sustainable and economic. The fact is the recycling of the Li-ion batteries can lead to an enormous reduction of CO2 emission from manufacturing, less raw material inputs, less landfills, and less cost for the production. The technology of this recycling is developed at U.S.D.O.E Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and they found mechanochemical recovery of critical elements of spent Li-ion batteries for effective recycling of Li-ion batteries using chemical separation and magnetic separation after reactive milling with inputs. Likewise, the EV industry merely started their journey for the next generation of automobiles, and the industry including mega companies has started investing on research for the development of the EV to reduce carbon emissions including other factors to be more compatible than gasoline cars.  

The commercialization of the EV industry has not even been a decade, that is a short period of EV history compared to the history of gasoline vehicles which had the stage of development in the 1890s. EV already proved the possibility of reduction of CO2 emission in this short amount of period. Tesla has become one of the largest companies, and the other auto companies are already following Tesla to be involved into the EV industry. The research of EV development is highly increasing, and it rapidly accelerates the more efficient, cheaper, and greener EV to open the next generation of the automobile. 

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