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Hidden Tailpipe

Discussion in 'News' started by Vitaman, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. Vitaman

    Vitaman Member

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  2. CliffG

    CliffG Member

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    This assertion, constantly made, is bugging me more and more:
    Isn't it true that (approximately) as much electricity must be generated to refine ICE fuels (well, gasoline) as is used by BEVs? I've seen it mentioned elsewhere, here on TMC, that a BEV (or maybe it was just a Tesla) can go as far on the power used to refine a litre of gasoline as an ICEv can go on that same liter (I assume the same is true for gallons, btw). Assuming this is true, doesn't that mean that an ICE vehicle is generating approximately twice the pollution in order to operate (ignoring the manufacturing effluvia argument, which I have the sneaking suspicion is another canard)? Are there any data to validate or refute this assumption?
     
  3. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

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    The only way to get apples to apples is to trace the fuel all the way back to the extraction point including mining, transportation, refining and burning. There's a footprint for extracting the crude, shipping it to the refinery, refining it, and shipping to the point of consumption. Same for the fuel used to generate electricity but would be different for each fuel type. For electricity one also needs to consider transmission losses.

    Would need to do more research to determine what the differences are but I'm not prepared to do so.
     
  4. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    #4 Zythryn, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
    Not really, but sort of (helpful, aren't I:tongue::tongue:).
    As I understand it, refineries tend to burn a lot of their own waste product for energy.
    The amount of energy from the grid that they use is small. About .15kWh/per gallon as I recall.
    Their are a couple of exceptions, and those are the ones that you typically hear about.

    I think what would be a better measure would be to quantify how much GHGs are emitted by refineries. This is not data, afaik, that is collected.

    Overall, in 2010, the typical EV was responsible for fewer emissions than the most efficient hybrid fo 60% of the population of the U.S.
    In 2010 the typical EV was responsible for fewer emissions than the average car in all of the U.S.

    Of course, this is if you are getting your electricity from the grid mix. If you are sourcing from renewables it is even cleaner.

    Here is a great reference piece, with one note. Since 2010, our grid has gotten cleaner, so the EVs are even cleaner today.
    How do EVs Compare with Gas-Powered Vehicles? Better Every Year…. - The Equation
     
  5. meloccom

    meloccom Moderator Aus/NZ

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    The Union of Concerned Scientists have published a number of reports in regards to the long tailpipe argument.
    The 2012 report State of Charge calculates that 45% of Americans live in locations where the MPGe of an EV is 50MPG or better compared to the average ICE vehicle of 27MPG.
    Recently they updated the report to show that the efficiency of EVs continues to improve as the carbon intensity of electricity generation is reduced. How do EVs compare with gas cars
    Even in carbon intensive Australia where I live my main argument is I can choose to purchase electricity produced from renewable resources and lower the carbon footprint of my EV but I can't do the same with an ICE.
     
  6. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    If it helps Cliff, the way I think about it is that even IF the assertion is true that all we've done is move the pollution from our non-existent tailpipe and over to the power plant, then two things are still true (and both good):
    1- that stationary power plant will be better able to add carbon scrubbers / capture devices than millions of mobile vehicles, should we choose to pursue that option.
    2- as the grid mix of power changes, the EV power source changes right along with the grid. If the grid gets dirtier, then the EV gets dirtier. As the grid is getting cleaner, so are EVs becoming cleaner. The gas engine cars are staying just as dirty as the day they were manufactured, and they will never change in any meaningful way.

    And this is just about the most pessimistic possible view of the situation.
     
  7. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    Here's a good discussion of the energy used:
    How much electricity is used refine a gallon of Gasoline?-video added! Gateway Electric Vehicle Club
    The Robert Llewellyn video on the page is also very good.
     
  8. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Let's suppose for the sake of argument the (false) proposition that with today's electric generation fleet, some EVs may contribute as much carbon emissions as their ICE counterparts.

    BUT -- in 5 years, the grid's power source will be getting cleaner as Renewable Portfolio Standards increase (already scheduled to do so in state laws), coal plants retire (owing mostly to the toxic metals rules, but also carbon) and are replaced by renewable or natural gas-fired generation, and more people make their own power from rooftop solar. So the same EV you buy today will be cleaner in 5 years.

    The ICE vehicle you buy today, however, is baking in a minimum level of carbon emissions. And that's a minimum level -- your ICE is never going to be as efficient as it was clean and new. But you own it, so that's what you'll drive. Thus we see that buying new ICE vehicles is building in a structural impediment to responding to critical climate change issues
     
  9. SR22pilot

    SR22pilot Member

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  10. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    If you put the electricity that refineries use to refine a gallon of gas into an electric car, it would travel as far as the ICE car on that gallon of gas.
    That doesn't include, of course, the fuel the refinery burns or all of the fuel used for drilling, extraction and transport of the fossil fuel.
     
  11. CliffG

    CliffG Member

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    This is the idea I'm hoping to validate.

    All the other points made above are valuable, but (for example) the DOE estimate noted above of the efficiency of producing gasoline is not quite what I'm asking about (although still very interesting!).

    I think it's clear to most of us here (trolls excepted, I guess) that the long tailpipe for most EVs is still cleaner than that for gasoline-powered vehicles. What I've been bugged by is the notion of the absolute waste of energy that's represented by the process: generate electricity, to refine gasoline so that can be burned instead. That represents a loss of potential that just irritates me and seems to be lost in the conversation.
     
  12. SR22pilot

    SR22pilot Member

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    I believe the second link I posted uses total emissions including the refining of gas.
     
  13. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #13 TEG, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
    This thread also hasn't gone into the EV benefits of local renewable power generation for charging... Thing like home solar or wind power. Then the "long tailpipe" argument really falls apart if there is nothing being burned to get excited electrons into your car.

    ---

    Along with massive amounts of power used by oil refineries, there are also massive amounts of fuel used to truck the refined fuel to the filling stations. Some people have to drive far out of their way to get to the gas station to refuel their cars.
    Much better to just send electricity around over a stationary wire and particularly useful if it is available at home where your car is going to be parked nightly anyways.
     
  14. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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    I did not read the entire article, but to be fair, they should mention those with Solar installed as their primary source of charging have NOTHING emitting from the hidden tailpipe!
     
  15. gocken2

    gocken2 Model S: P6931

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    There is still the emissions from manufacturing the solar panels.
     
  16. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I believe this chart from the government gives you the numbers that you are looking for:

    U.S. Fuel Consumed at Refineries

    Last year 46 BILLION kWh of electricity was used in refineries along with 896 BILLION cubic feet of natural gas. Most of that is not used to directly convert oil into gasoline.

    I had a lengthy discussion with a commenter on Autoblog Green about this.
     
  17. SR22pilot

    SR22pilot Member

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  18. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    4-7.5 kWh of ENERGY is used, not electricity. Much of that energy is from the burning of waste from the crude oil. Very little of it come from the grid.

    While GHGs are still being emitted, it is not as much of a drain on the grid as the numbers might infer.

    More transparency from refineries would be nice.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And there are emissions from building power plants as well.

    You can get ridiculously deep into total impact. Heck, why not take into account the emissions from growing the food that sustains the workers that build the power plants?

    The main issue is to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
     
  19. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    Actually, it is about 6kWh of ELECTRICITY (plus other energy inputs).

    There are multiple sources on this... here are a few:
    Electric Mini: It takes a lot of coal to make gasoline
    How much electricity is used refine a gallon of Gasoline?-video added! Gateway Electric Vehicle Club
    How much electricity is used refine a gallon of Gasoline?
     
  20. CliffG

    CliffG Member

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    Yeah - that was an interesting estimate, but not of the electricity used.

    Hah. Yeah. We're gonna see that someday.

    Again, yeah. I was going to see your [gocken2] emissions from manufacturing photovoltaics and raise you the byproducts of manufacturing oilers, drill platforms, black lung disease, etc., etc., but as Zythryn points out, pretty soon you lose sight of what the original point was.

    Exactly.

    - - - Updated - - -

    There ya go. Thanks!
     

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