New Study Shows That Diesel Cars Are Much Cleaner Than Most Electric Vehicles


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electric vehicles causing more carbon footprint
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In the last few years, electric vehicles have seen a significant rise all over the world. It was such a big hit that the biggest automakers in the market started making plans to go electric. It is also expected that very soon, we can see a 100% switch from diesel cars to EVs. One of the biggest reason to universally choose EVs is the environmentally friendly nature which is a much-needed trait these days. A German automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors, who describe themselves as the only relevant top management consulting firm working exclusively for the auto industry’ is saying that EV might not be as eco-friendly as the industries think it is.

The electric cars do not release carbon emissions, but the problem lies in the production of their lithium-ion batteries. The energy required to make the cells result in a high carbon footprint. It is so high that the automotive experts have estimated that an electric vehicle in Germany would take more than 10 years to break even with an efficient combustion engine’s emissions. Dr. Jan Burgard, managing partner at Berylls said in a statement, “Electric cars appear to be the panacea and reduce emissions by 35 %. After all, electric vehicles do not emit any carbon dioxide while driving – at least that is a widely held opinion.”

Burgard further added, “However, from well to wheel, they do not improve the situation. After all, electricity generation – including for electric cars – is still strongly dependent on fossil fuels in many EU countries. The climate does not care whether carbon dioxide comes from the exhaust pipe or whether it is released when lignite is burned to generate electricity or in energy-intensive battery production.” The study states that building a 500 kilograms EV car battery or bigger in a fossil fuel-powered factory will result in 74% more carbon emissions than producing a traditional vehicle. Burgard says that it is time to consider the diesel approach if the world wants to reach the environmental targets of 2030 EU CO2.

Burgard said, “I miss a technology-agnostic discussion of available solutions, which also includes the potential of the currently demonized diesel engine. We will need it to achieve the EU’s climate targets.” Several others are not convinced with the research report and have lashed it on Twitter. People stated that the report is biased and is coming from the place from where the funding arrives. However, it is essential to consider the dirty process of making a battery and make appropriate adjustments accordingly. While energy companies are moving towards greener initiatives, producing a cleaner battery might also be possible soon.

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78 Comments

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  1. Carbon capture can be utilized at the source of manufacturing and would be less difficult than scrubbing everyone’s tail pipes. Electric is still better, we will just have to bootstrap our way to carbon free emissions.

    1. Better still is to make a synthetic liquid fuel. Its production actually captures carbon and it is cleaner burning. It is practical power for Tractors Lorries busses. trains and aircraft. It would cost the same to produce as a gallon retails. Governments are not going to encourage this option as they depend on the tax take they get from fossil fuel to keep their economies going……..a fact that those with enthusiasm for green tech seem to forget. Eventually taxes will have to be raised too on batteries or road tax to cover loss of revenue. There is no such thing as a free bootstrap

  2. As David has posted, the twist in this obvious biased article is that it ignores where emissions are produced. Diesels spread their pollutants on the streets where we live and work for us and our families to breath in and suffer the health consequences.

  3. Very dishonest “research” and misleading article to go with it. What they’re saying is *if* the car is in a country that mainly produces electricity from coal and *if* it’s a hybrid rather than an actual electric car them it *might* be better for the environment to drive s diesel because the weight of the batteries madness the dirty diesel engine produce more dirty emissions. But in the UK, like most developed western nations, we don’t produce most of our electricity from coal – about half comes from renewables. And real electric cars don’t have engines. They have used a narrow set of circumstances – fossil fuel dependency for electricity and hybrids – and dishonestly applied the findings to all electric cars in all countries. This isn’t science, it’s marketing bullshit for whichever car company that’s heavily invested in diesel had paid for it.

  4. More than a century ago the electric vehicle lost to the internal combustion engine for the simplest of reasons. Convenience.
    I can go to my petrol station, fill up in five minutes, and then not have to worry about fuel again for another 450 to 500 kms.
    Even a good electric vehicle struggles to go 200 kms, and then you’re looking at a fairly long recharge time before your car is usable again. If you have a power outage at your place of residence you’re kind of stuck. Also, as anyone with a cellphone knows, even when you’re not using it the batteries discharge.
    Infrastructure to provide the extra power for this fleet of vehicles is expensive, and if anyone believes they can make enough solar panels to cover a desert, they’re kidding themselves.
    To run the electric vehicle will not be significantly cheaper to run than a petrol vehicle, because most of the cost of fuel is tax, and if you don’t pay it at the pump the government will figure out a way to charge you it anyway.

  5. If electricity is so clean, green and efficient, why does it cost me five times as much to buy one KW/Hr of electricity (in the UK) as 1 KW/Hr equivalent of natural gas?

    We are also being encouraged to dump gas fired heating systems (typically 97% efficient when condensing boilers are used) in favour of electric heating, including the use of electric heat pumps; the refrigerant in which is many times more damaging to the environment than CO2.

  6. It takes 5 kwh of electricity to turn crude oil into Diesel, an electric car can go 20 milez on that. Also at the moment 40% of electricity is produced by renewables.

    1. yes/no, problem with it is it requires location, and can have a huge environmental impact. that saying, for now this is the best, cleanest, most eco friendly and CHEAPEST form of energy, just need to keep thigns small, so if we can swap the rivers into giant hydro power pipes with few free spots here and there, good.

      but there is somethign much better coming, already works, we just need to push this further so can make a portable generator for a starter. at present it is only a plant in the building with a lab prototype. (converts hydrogen as sun does on its 1st stage of life).

  7. While all cars produce a CO2 footprint, very few politicians tackle the big elephant in the room… Methain produced by farm animals which is several times worst in causing greenhouse emissions, and the co2 and deforestation caused in feeding our precious meat source animals.
    Mind you I like meat, but the real facts should be out to the open, instead of blaming only one industry

  8. It’s all pretty much irrelevant, 87% of airborne pollution was caused by aircraft in 2009, later figures are not available for some reason, it is estimated that 100% of target Co2 emissions will be from aircraft by 2022.There are no plans to reduce it or stop the subsidies airlines get.

  9. I agree that we need precious minerals and that the carbon footprint is pretty high to make the cells (lithium-ion batteries). However the market will get bigger and bigger and the batteries will also get better and better. We might also find alternative solutions and technologies on the way while we progress. For example, Sweden is testing electric road for moving vehicles.

  10. > The study states that building a 500 kilograms EV car battery or bigger in a fossil fuel-powered factory will result in 74% more carbon emissions than producing a traditional vehicle.
    Key words are “fossil-fuel powered”. And electricity can be obtained by clean means. E.g., Tesla’s Gigafactory runs on solar and wind power.

    1. Tesla Gigafactory is in good hope to be powered by wind power. But as of now – that is not the case.
      “Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared on Twitter this weekend that Tesla Gigafactory 1 will be powered 100% by Tesla Solar by the end of 2019.”
      Let’s see, if Tesla WILL BE successful to power all its plants and factories on renewables. Keeping fingers crossed…

    2. The whole wind and solar nonsense needs to sip, between Germany and Australie there is sufficient evidence its a gigantic fail, given it needs 100% back up 24/7 its utterly pointless, truth is it produces so little its a bad joke.

      1. wind can have a good avg performance, but usually only on the coast spots. it also tends to kill lot of birds, bats i think and something else. solar in a current stage can work only in a few places, and even there it is a giant fail as you said. it is perfect tho for low powered devices in remote spots.

  11. Except when producing a battery the emissions and wastes are localised and COULD be dealt with at the factory level. When driving a diesel car the exhaust is spread out in the atmosphere rendering it much harder to recycle.

    Health issues alone should point you to electric cars, if not I’d like you to take a good breath next to a busy road or try to focus on your work near a big highway.

    Obviously the report is stated as it is synthesised from tweets within the automobile industry. When has Twitter become the go-to news media? Oh right, since Trump got signed…

  12. “The True analysis shows that new diesel models released in 2016 were still on average five over times above the EU’s official baseline limit of 0.08mg of nitrogen oxides (NOx) per kilometre. The 2017 models were a little cleaner, but still nearly four times over. NOx pollution is at illegally high levels in numerous EU nations. It is estimated to cause 23,500 early deaths a year in the UK, where government plans to cut pollution have been repeatedly ruled so inadequate as to be illegal. Separate research published on Wednesday calculates that diesel cars and vans, which make up less than half the UK’s fleet, cause 88% of the health damage from light vehicles.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/06/impossible-to-cheat-emissions-tests-show-almost-all-new-diesels-still-dirty

    1. Ihre Angabe zum Grenzwert bpm Nox sind falsch es sind 80mg oder 0,08 g. Lesen sie mal den aktuellen Eco Test von ADAC. Die Nox Emissionen sind teilweise bei 0 (Null) Außderdem sollten Sie mal sich iformieren, wie es zu dieser Grenzwertfindung kam. Kinder wurden über 2 Wochen in einem Innenraum mit einem Gasofen vergast udn 2o% zeigten dann leichte Reaktionen, wobei nicht festgehalten ist, ob diese 20% nicht vorbelastet waren. Es gibt Studien, wonach eine Reaktion nicht unter 395 µg/m3 möglich ist. Wenn Sie Geld an slochen Studien verdienen wollen müssen sie auch immer ein Ergbnis liefern, dass ihrem Auftraggeber gefällt. Und diese hochgerechneten Toden wurden alle statitisch unzzulässigen Methoden errechnet. Wenn man dies berechnen will muss man einen Statischen Zwilling haben, der genau dieser Belastung nicht ausgesetzt ist. Das ist aber für eien einzelnen Schadstoff gar nicht möglich.
      zur verdeutlichung was 40µg/m3 No2 bedeuten: Stellen sie sich einen Tunnel mit einer Länge von 10.000m vor. Hohe ist 4 m und die Breite auch 4 m, die Enden werden verschlossen. Darin verbennen Sie dann 1kg Holz. Damit wird dann . wenn sich das bei der Verbrennung gebildete Bo2 verteilt hat 40µg/m3 No2. Dieser Grenzwert ist ein besserer Witz zumal für eien Arbeitsplatz in D aus DAUER 950µg/m3 gelten und kein Mensch bisher tod umgefallen ist. In der Schweiz gilt sogar ein Grenzwert für Arbeitsplätze der um das Vielfache höher ist und die Schweiz gilt als besonders strang.

  13. “Over half of diesel cars recently approved for sale in Europe are emitting pollutants far above current legal air pollution limits, despite being marketed as the “cleanest in history”. Analysis of emissions data from nearly 100 car models revealed many vehicles from the new “Euro 6” generation would not be allowed on the market if they were tested today.

    An investigation by Greenpeace found dozens of these high-polluting vehicles were approved for sale during a “monitoring period” in which there was no limit set on the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) they could emit on roads. Many of these vehicles have only gone on sale across Europe in the recent months.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/diesel-cars-ban-cleanest-emissions-legal-limits-air-pollution-regulations-uk-germany-a8235076.html

  14. Same as all the wind farms produce electric cleanly but the building,the up keep the thousands of gallons of diesel to run the thousand plus horsepower transfer boats

    1. we don’t need to use poison for energy. we have clean free energy all around us, all we have to do is reach out and grab it.

      “In 1986, in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he was searching for a potential alternative source of clean energy and arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes in a year.”

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

      1. Please… Then tell me, why there are no solar fields in deserts? If you want to know, read something about solar energy and problems with cooling of solar panels… If you have a technology, you can use on deserts, please, be so kind and give it to the rest of the world.

  15. oxyhydrogen generator,
    uses electricity from your car battery to split water into hydrogenand oxygen gasses. (Electricity + 2H20 –> 2H2 + O2) Together, these make a fuel that is much more powerful than gasoline, and the only emission released is—water!

    1. Why not just use the energy from your batteries directly on an electric motor instead of making hydrogen to make electricity again to use on a electric motor anyway?

  16. There is away that we can get rid of CO2. This company can build a machine that can absorb CO2 and turn it into a solid state. I have read that you can compress these carbon ball’s into a liquid and then burn it without a pollution. http:://carbonengineering.com/ But these tree huggers want nothing to do with this technology

    1. There is a machine that gobbles up CO2 called trees, they love it 🙂 Some researches are saying the are more trees than 35, some say 100 years ago, but I am deeply concerned about primeval forests being felled. I am less concerned about the CO2 hype than mercury and other toxic pollutants.

  17. This article is based on one giant flawed premise – that things are somehow static. EU power mix is moving gradually over to renewables and low carbon emitting generation sources. It also ignores other aspects of diesel emissions – particulates and other gases. Finally, it also doesn’t mention if the figures being used are the false ones produced by the manufacturers, or real use figures? We had rather a large diesel scandal recently, remember.

    This seems far too much like an industry puff piece than a real study.

  18. What a pile of crap.
    Diesel runners aren’t only the most polluting vehicles, but the most dangerous to health.
    If you don’t believe me, go at the back of a diesel exhaust with engine running and breath in and out for 30 seconds. Now go and do the same thing with a petrol.
    I can guarantee you, you could sit next to petrol one for many more minutes, but 30 seconds might be too much for many of us next to a diesel.
    Now compare that sh£te(diesel) with an electric- what a stupidity..first of all the fuel burnt to produce electricity will be evacuated at high altitude as furnaces are at least 30 metres high, they also aren’t used in town or next to dense populations(like vehicles in traffic, e.g. Pedestrian crossings, very busy cities etc etc)

    1. Yes try this. 30S of inhaling petrol exhaust and you’d be unconcious from hypoxia and that’s assuming the catalytic converter is up to temperature-if not, you’ll be dead. Same test with diesel? You’ll be fine. Yes, NOx is higher with diesel, but HC and Co are worse with petrol. Particulates? mixed pictire. Direct Injection gasoline can be worse than diesel with a particulate filter.

  19. does this surprise anyone? irrespective of the carbon cost of producing lithium batteries (exorbitant) and the cost of shipping those batteries to car factories (painful), you’re still running those electric cars on coal, unless you have a 20kw solar array for your car. electric is not the answer everyone thinks it is.

    1. And you’re ignoring the cost of producing electricity to refine fuel to both power the vehicles and the tankers that deliver it. We don’t just pull car fuel from the ground, its refined. Basically if we all switched to electric, we wouldn’t have any extra demand on electricity generation to charge our vehicles.
      Running an EV would need less electricity than fuel takes to refine and deliver

    1. Hydrogen vehicles only are environmentally good when we use hydrogen as a biproduct of another industrial production, such as some trains in Germany are.

      To produce hydrogen just for car demand, would actually be very high energy usuage and not efficient.

    2. Hydrogen cars need rare materials for catalysis, making them more expensive.
      And the most common H2 production technique uses hydrocarbon with a production efficiency close to 30%, less efficient than any internal combustion engine.

  20. When will they produce a electric car that can recharge itself, ie wind generation and solar top up, then people can actually say the emissions footprint is negligible.
    We definitely need to improve battery manufacture, I’m sure the world’s chemist’s can come up with a new cell

      1. Might work for a few weeks per year in the UK. We get too much cloud cover to rely on solar car roofs as every day transport.

      2. Retired General Motors Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz and his business partner Gilbert Villarreal announced the debut of VL Automotive at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. VL has acquired 25 unsold Fisker Karmas and is remaking the cars by taking out the hybrid electric powertrain and installing a Chevrolet Corvette LS9 supercharged V8 gasoline engine with 638 hp (476 kW; 647 PS) and 604 lbf·ft (819 N·m) of torque and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Lutz told Automotive News that he’ll also change the grille, make it “silky and buttery to drive,” and sell them at prices beginning around $200,000.[88][89] The resulting vehicle will be called the VL Destino.[90] In May 2014 VL merged with WM GreenTech Automotive, and resulted in the car being renamed WM Destino by its new owners.[91]

        In January 2016, the car was renamed as the VLF Destino V8, to mark the creation of the new company VLF Automotive.[92] Deliveries of new VLF Destinos began in mid-2016.

  21. What I haven’t heard is any talk of technological advances in emmissions control and or introductions of other fuels .

  22. While an interesting read, you’re only comparing the carbon footprint of the battery manufacture vs the emissions from a Diesel engine. What about the carbon footprint of manufacturing the Diesel engine? In reality, you need to compare the overall process if you want to make a valid comparison.

    1. This is a valid point, however the same could be said about an EV. The battery alone is enough concern with its manufacturing process, but the rest of the vehicle still has to be manufactured just like a diesel vehicle. The difference being an engine, the EV will still retain most of the other systems an ancillary components so the difference would not be significant. Lithium strip mining is far more invasive than oil extraction processes as well, so there’s another point to consider.

  23. Actually these cars DO emit pollution. Electric pollution from the coils and magnets of the motors! Plus all high powered supply cables emit electrical fields in the same way pylons do. Only these cables are tight next to our bodies. The electric car agenda is designed to charge our bodies which enhances 5G which is two tests AHEAD of their schedule! Now you know the real reason for panic pushing electric cars!! Harry.

  24. I am the “proud” owner of a “clean” Diesel engine powered car and I agree with the statement re diesel v electric pollution effects. What Icontinue to ponder is both are harmful to our planet collectively and one being not “quite” so polluting is a disaster still. I cannot understand the massive investment in the production of electric powered vehicles. Why is there no increase in the Hydrogen cell power source coming to the fore. Surely something which depends on converting water into power is the only sensible way to go as our planet has an abundant supply of the stuff.

  25. But the battery making process is probably miles away from the main centres of population and the diesel demonisation is for the sake of the brain health of individuals not just about co2 and climate change.

  26. That article has one major fault.

    It’s not the motor industry that needs educating its the politicians and environmentalists who are pushing the electric vehicle agenda.
    They are not looking at the end to end process of vehicle manufacturing and life cycle of a vehicle, including recycling. I.e. the sustainability of the whole process.

  27. This article is misleading because it proclaims diesel to be more ‘clean’ then EV’s and is only comparing CO2 levels, nothing about actual toxic pollution coming from diesel. CO2 is very clean itself not the problem for our air quality in cities, it is only a greenhouse gas, not toxic and not dangerous for or health.
    Also the source is questionable; an automotive consultancy bureau … ok … really?. The article was reproduced online on many publications like ‘Wonderful engineering’ without any scrutiny of the publishers. Some opinion or scientific questioning would fit this engineering publication and a lost opportunity to stand out with some quality reporting or input. Next time better?

    1. What other toxic components are you talking about? Diesel combustion has modern emissions controls in place for particulate and nox emissions via dpf and scr systems.

    2. Diesel tech is actually very clean now. Mercedes’ bluetec engine is very clean. The dirty part used to come from the particulates…soot…but these are trapped now also diesel ignites at very high pressure so the fuel is efficiently burned unlike many gasoline engines which are less efficient.
      Rather than shoot the messenger here and question the source, I think a discussion around the arguments better serve us. We want to reduce CO2 footprints, yes but we have to consider the end to end supply chain when we make purchase choices.
      Lithium, cobalt, all these things have an environmental cost as does steel for turbines and the shipping and construction and so on.
      Again, when these CO2s are considered over the lifecycle against the cost we will better understand how we can make more informed choices.
      For example, I like to eat fish. I could go to the market and buy fish flown in this morning from the Pacific ocean or I could buy fish transported from the Atlantic.
      Which one has the lower Co2 footprint. Are the fish taxed as CO2 emissions accordingly? This is the issue ….we generate Co2 from everything we make, buy, consume, ship…..its very hard to point the finger at a specific source and say…that’st he worst one.