Green Energy Value in the Electric Car?
What determines “Green Energy Value” . Is it the use of some form of energy that might otherwise be lost? Or perhaps using energy sources that do not cause warmng gas emissions? Maybe it is using solar panels to charge our cars. For example, when a framer’s cows are flatulent they produce Methane gas (CH4) which can be used for any power source. Methane gas can be burned easily and will produce energy when it does.
So, let’s pose a question regarding Electric Vehicles. Where does the electricity come from that powers these cars? You reply, ” It comes from charging the battery ” which is of course correct, but need to examine the source of the battery charge in order to find the original source of this energy.
Do Batteries = Green Energy Value?
Most batteries for cars charge via the local electric power provided at a charging-station or your household 220 Volt connection. OK you say, but how clean or efficient is that ?
When the battery is charged with AC power, it is converted into DC current so that it can charge your electric can. As the charger works, it creates heat and this heat represents lost energy in the process. If you have a very good charger it will convert about 85% of your house electric energy into energy that your battery can use. Another way of saying this is that it will also loose 15% of the power put into the charger.
Do we get Green Energy Value using Lithium Batteries?
Lithium Ion Batteries are commonly used in electric road vehicles, and even used in powered skateboards. These batteries are very useful because they contain a higher energy density than other types. Energy density is the amount of power capacity that you can get out of a battery per weight of the battery. Lithium Ion (Li-On) batteries are packaged together to develop higher current or voltage as a unit. This denser packaging may cause problems when one or more cells develops a failure and thus a hazardous condition. Ignition and burning of Li-On battery fires all the time in vehicles, airplanes, skateboards, and laptop computers. These issues result from manufacturing or design problems or from improper use. These charged cells contain stored electrical energy which comes from their internal chemical reactions. Discharging Li-ion cells creates chemical energy that can be released through by the combustion of their electrolytes.
Green Energy Value – Is it Lost in the Cost of Disposal?
In addition to the use concerns, Li-On cells and other batteries present recycling issues. These batteries act like little chemical factories, and they need to be disposed of and recycled in the proper manner (this is common of other battery types as well). An electric vehicle contains many hundreds of pounds of these cells when it is produced. In order to keep green energy value, these batteries need to be recycled and/or properly disposed of. Doing this is not cheap, and their “end of life costs” should be considered as real and substantial cost of using “green vehicles”. Improperly discarding of these energy sources can lead to more costs for the society as a whole, or the individual costs of disposal in addition to the replacement costs for the vehicle involved.