Carbon Footprint of Electric Cars vs. Gasoline
Are electric cars the future? Do electric cars cause pollution? Is electric car pollution worse than gasoline pollution?
These are all valid questions; we will unpack the answers together in this article. Of course, when we talk about electric cars vs. gas cars’ pollution levels, we must consider the manufacturing processes used to make both models.
We must also think about electric car battery disposal pollution and the lifetime emissions of gasoline-powered cars vs. electric cars. It’s also important to consider the impact of electric cars vs. gas cars on the environment, including emissions from driving, manufacturing, and disposal.
Do Electric Cars Pollute?
An objection to the clean, eco-friendly image of electric cars is the effects of electric car battery pollution.
Electric car batteries are composed of various rare earth materials. The extraction, manipulation, and disposal of such materials can contribute to carbon emissions and air and water pollution. That is before considering the human cost of conflict mining.
While internal combustion vehicles (ICEVs) have reduced their emissions over time, electric cars have a competitive edge as they produce zero running emissions.
EVs have a considerable advantage over conventional cars depending on where power is sourced; the greener the power grid, the greener the electric vehicle.
Therefore, when we consider the carbon footprint of electric cars vs. gasoline, EVs are considered better for the environment from an emissions perspective.
Plus, as EVs become more common and their manufacturing becomes more widespread, battery recycling will become more efficient, reducing the need for new materials and the reliance on mining to produce new batteries.
Lifetime Emissions: Electric vs. Gasoline
There are two specific categories of vehicle emissions: life cycle and direct.
Direct emissions leave a vehicle via the tailpipe, during the fuelling process, and through evaporation from the fuel system. These emissions include nitrogen oxides, greenhouse gases, and other pollutants that are harmful to human health.
All-electric vehicles emit zero direct emissions, significantly helping to improve the air quality in urban areas. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which combine gasoline engines with electric motors, produce tailpipe emissions and evaporative emissions when operating on gasoline.
That said, the majority of PHEVs are more efficient than most conventional combustion-fuelled vehicles, producing fewer tailpipe emissions even when running on gasoline.
“Life-cycle emissions” is a blanket term for all emissions related to vehicle production, distribution, processing, use, recycling, and disposal.
For example, there are emissions when crude oil is extracted from the ground, refined to gasoline, delivered to stations, and burned in vehicles. Similar to direct emissions, life-cycle emissions contain a variety of GHGs and harmful pollutants.
Every vehicle produces substantial life-cycle emissions, and calculating them can be a tricky job. However, electric cars generally have fewer life-cycle emissions compared to conventional vehicles.
Therefore, when we compare the carbon footprint of electric cars vs. gasoline, it can be said that electric vehicles have a lower carbon footprint overall. The exact amount of emissions from electric and hybrid cars depends on your location and the area’s electricity mix.
Because all-electric EVs have fewer moving parts, such as there being neither a transmission nor engine cylinders, they require much less lubrication which means less pollution from oil and fluid leaks that cause the oil slicks we see in parking lots.
How to Choose an Electric Car
There are three types of electric vehicles available on today’s market; plug-in hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cell cars, and fully electric cars. All of these vehicles are partly or wholly powered by an electric motor.
Let’s take a closer look at all three models:
Fully electric vehicles will not release any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are on the road.
They are generally the cleanest cars available and are typically powered entirely by a rechargeable electric battery that can be recharged at home or a charging station.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles pair a battery and electric motor with an economical internal combustion engine.
These vehicles provide about 20 or 30 miles of electric driving plus hundreds of miles using the diesel or gas engine. The gas engine may also recharge the hybrid battery while you drive, depending on vehicle design.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
Hydrogen fuel cell cars get their power from the chemical process of fusing oxygen and hydrogen.
Therefore, they don’t require charging and can be driven as long as they have an ample supply of hydrogen. Filling up these vehicles takes less than five minutes, and the average hydrogen fuel cell car can drive 325 miles before requiring more fuel.
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