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Tesla vs ICE pollution

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by Patrick W, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Patrick W

    Patrick W Member

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    I live in Utah, one of the minority of US states still prohibiting Tesla from opening a dealership. There was a bill in the recent legislative session to fix that but it failed.

    The bill's failure has led to a number of Letters to the Editor in the local paper, all of which that I've seen have been in favor of a Tesla dealership.

    I added my letter to that batch earlier this week:
    Letter: Out-of-state Tesla employees thank Utah | The Salt Lake Tribune

    While my letter was intended to show how locals are missing out on jobs and money is being forced to leave the state, the comments to the letter have become a debate on EVs. Y'all might want to read through the comments as some of them are so wrong they are unintentionally funny.

    One point that I've heard before and is in the comments is that while EVs emit no pollution, pollution is created somewhere when the electricity for the car is produced. That's especially true here in Utah where over 80% of the state's electricity is created by burning coal.

    Anyone here have data comparing the amount of pollution created by burning fossil fuels to create enough electricity to drive a Model S a given distance versus the amount of pollution caused by burning fossil fuel in a similar sized ICE sedan going the same distance? Better still, a link to a study on the subject by someone not connected to Tesla or any other EV manufacturer.
     
  2. cwerdna

    cwerdna Active Member

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    If you strictly want to look at greenhouse gas output, you can use Compare Cars Side-by-Side and select Energy and Environment tab.

    Example: Compare Side-by-Side

    Under that tab, you can look at grams, US tons or metric tons/year of GHGs. Be sure to select tailpipe and upstream GHGs. For EVs, you have to go to the calculate emissions link and put in your zip. It'll tell you in grams/mile. You can then compare to some vehicles I selected or others you choose.

    Unfortunately, for How clean is the electricity I use? - Power Profiler | Clean Energy | US EPA, when I put in 84074 zip code, it doesn't seem to tell me the proper electricity generation mix (coal, hydro, nat gas, etc.) for your utility... but lumps it all together into the WECC Northwest region.
     
  3. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    And bear in mind that pollution in the cities where people have to breath it in, is more harmful than pollution outside the cities from power plants, because there are other types of pollution other than CO2. Also every comparison I've seen assumes the ICE car will have the same level of pollution throughout its life, but the reality is that when new it's as clean as it ever will be. EVs get cleaner as the grid gets cleaner. Also EVs tend to charge at night when wind and nuclear make up a larger percentage of the power, so you have to factor in the time as well.
     
  4. bp1000

    bp1000 Member

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    #4 bp1000, Apr 1, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
    the argument that carbon footprint of an electric car is just as bad as you have to create the electricity somewhere else (like burning coal) is the argument of a simpleton.

    All you have to do is look at the huge amounts of energy required to refine petroleum gas. Its so vast into the gigawatts that the UK don't publish the figures anymore.

    That is just 1 part of the picture without factoring in co2 and particulate emissions, air quality, noise pollution, longevity and sustainability, manufacturing carbon footprint and daily running for ICE. Here in the UK we get at minimum 14% from renewable energy, latest figure for 2014-15 should report near 20%. Whilst its hard to raise enough charge domestically, tesla and other energy companies buy electricity on the open market from wind farms, north sea hydro and solar arrays, sometimes as an import exchange.

    Admittedly its quite complex to work it all out but you get a good view with real facts.

    As for air pollution, London is pretty borderline dirty for air pollution. 10 years ago your nose inside would be black on a daily basis. These days with lower emission cars, more electric cars and a lot more hybrids, newer taxi and buses with particulate trap for emissions reg the state of my nose is much better. So yes, only a simpleton would rally against the sale of EVs. I can only assume people with a vested interest in the oil automative industry would lobby against a threatening competitor. These people are more likely to be hardline or funds or responsible for jobs in the automative sector.

    P.s. i don't know about UT but in the UK any power stations we have running that are still coal, and yes we have MANY still, in fact 1 is only 15 miles away, they are all mostly upgraded to carbon capture, almost all exhaust gasses is recaptured and used to drive turbines, re-using energy and almost eliminating trace of particulates. It is a lot cleaner than it used to be. Whilst they drive steam turbines to provide me with energy for my tesla on the other side they export that energy for refining petroleum for the old age petroleum. To keep it simple roughly, the same energy it takes to drive a tesla about 20 miles is roughly how much energy it takes to refine a gallon of gas. I admit the numbers might be slightly less and they are pieced together by people who have read the few reports released into the public domain. obviously this energy consumption doesn't even cover the tailpipe emissions for ICE or oil transportation costs and extraction costs.
     
  5. SR22pilot

    SR22pilot Member

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  6. AndY1

    AndY1 Member

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    #6 AndY1, Apr 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
     
  7. caddieo

    caddieo Member

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    This is what the critics of electricity production almost always fail to mention. For heavens sake, if you are going to criticize the CO2/pollution footprint caused by the production of the power source of electric cars (electricity) then do the same for the footprint caused by the production of gasoline and diesel. And that generally means the whole oil industry.
     
  8. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

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    It's not only the GHGs emitted from the refining of gasoline, but the overall efficiency of production between a power plant and an internal combustion engine vehicle.

    ICEs are only about 15-18% efficient at deriving work (miles) from the energy content of the gasoline they consume. This is for several reasons:

    - ICEs must be tuned to operate over a wide range of operating points (low speed, high speed, low load, high load). As a result, they're inefficient at all speeds and loads because they can't be optimized for just one.
    - ICEs use a repetitive batch process (pistons) to burn the fuel. This results in incomplete combustion when compared to a continuous-fed burner.
    - ICEs must be made relatively small to fit in the vehicle, and as a result cannot use any bulky devices like insulation or heat exchangers to improve their efficiency.
    - ICEs waste a lot of the energy from the fuel as heat. Direct heat from the engine out of the radiator is one, but an even larger amount of heat leaves the tailpipe. All of that waste heat is energy from the fuel that did no useful work.

    When fossil fuels are used in a power plant, massive efficiency gains can be had compared to an ICE:

    - A continuous-fed burner is used for near-complete combustion with precise stochiometric fuel/oxygen ratios.
    - A thermodynamic cycle (steam boiler/turbine/condenser) is used instead of direct energy conversion from the combustion. Larger temperature differences between the boiler and the condenser are possible to increase the thermodynamic efficiency.
    - There is room in the power plant to use heat recovery and efficiency gaining mechanisms like reheat (taking steam that's already spun a high-pressure turbine and reheating it in the boiler to then let it also drive a low-pressure turbine) and regenerative cycles (taking turbine exhaust steam and heating the feedwater with it so that heat isn't lost in the condenser).

    Because of these reasons, power plants can reach 40 - 41% efficiency at turning energy content of fossil fuels into useful work (electricity). This is 2-3 times as efficient as burning the same fossil fuel in an ICE vehicle.

    Even when you factor in the electrical losses of transmission and distribution, battery charge/discharge, and motor, you're still at least twice as efficient.
     
  9. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    #9 CHG-ON, Apr 1, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
    I totally agree with bp1000. Granted coal as your electricity source (appalling, BTW) is a hard argument. CA is natural gas plus renewables. So easier argument here. I agree with the fact that urban pollution is more harmful to the majority of residents compared to a power plant at the outskirts. But don't forget about no oil changes, no waste created by filters, belts, many worn out parts. Even if all of that is recycled, it takes lots of energy to do it. This strikes me as the same dealer BS that other states are dealing with as the dinosaurs try to dig their heels in to protect their turf.

    They WILL lose in the end.

    Sorry to hear that you don't have access to the most amazing car available. Hopefully, your legislature will become more enlightened.
     
  10. Patrick W

    Patrick W Member

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    #10 Patrick W, Apr 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Love the video. Posted it on my Facebook page.
     
  11. NielsHP

    NielsHP Member

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    @SomeJoe7777:

    > ... power plants can reach 40 - 41% efficiency at turning energy content of fossil fuels into useful work ...

    And even higher.
    Our local power plant (Avedøre in south Copenhagen) has 48% efficiency (fuel -> electricity) when running in condensation mode (admittedly, a world record when the plant was build thirty-something years ago). However, most of the time it makes district heating also, implying a lower fuel -> electricity efficiency, but an additional fuel -> heat efficiency. AFAIR, the combined figure is approx 90%.
     
  12. Jeff N

    Jeff N Active Member

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    #12 Jeff N, Apr 2, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
    The embedded video was an episode of Robert Llewellyn's Fully Charged video podcast. Great series and lots a fun.

    It's called "Volts for Oil". I wrote about it here:

    My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Pollution: EV vs ICE

    If you follow that link you will see that all of the key allegations that Llewellyn makes are grossly misleading.

    I pick the details apart and demonstrate that when you calculate the electricity kwh per gallon of gasoline the actual number for UK refineries using UN statistical data is about 0.2 - 0.3 kWh of electricity, not 4.5 kwh.

    Stated another way, only about 5% of the energy used to refine a gallon of gasoline comes from grid electricity. That's very much in line with estimates of 3.5 - 5.2% for US refineries based on Dept. of Energy statistics.

    I provide links to the actual database entries at data.un.org and show how the calculation is done.

    See Table 3 on page 5 of this 2011 ANL report on petroleum refining efficiencies in the United States to see that 5.2% of the energy used in refining comes from grid electricity:

    https://greet.es.anl.gov/files/petroleum

    As for ICE efficiency:
    Toyota, Honda, and others routinely make gasoline ICE engines that are 38% efficient. That's how a Prius, Accord, or a 2016 Malibu averages 47-50 mpg.

    There are plenty of good arguments favoring EVs but "4.5 kWh of grid electricity to refine a gallon of gasoline" and "gas ICE engine are only 18% efficient" aren't among them.
     
  13. mibaro2

    mibaro2 Member

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    I always find it funny and annoying when people use the argument that the electricity used for EV's is dirty. What about the electricity used to power the gas pumps so people fill up their gas guzzlers? Or the electricity used to power the whole gas station building ? I won't go into the other aspects people have mentioned here.
    Unfortunately, I don't have any statistics on how much electricity a 24 hr self serve gas station uses.
     
  14. schonelucht

    schonelucht Active Member

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    This is actually not true. While an EV has no tailpipe population, it's not the only source of pollution for a car in itself. Another important one is fine and coarse particles (<10 micrometers) from tire wear. EVs (and hybrids) are actually worse than ICE cars due to the excess weight from the battery. Tires on Model S's wear out relatively fast for example and the residu needs to go somewhere. The health effects of these particles is not precisely known, but studies indicate it may not be negligable either in urban environments.
     
  15. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    > only about 5% of the energy used to refine a gallon of gasoline comes from grid electricity. [Jeff N]

    Ok, so they limit grid KWHs by burning their own partially refined product to supply the heat needed to enable fractional distillation of their commercial product. They are surely not going to use electric heat for that purpose since it is expensive. So stating it this way is a straw horse implying that the refining process is somehow 'efficient' when actually it requires a lot of heat energy. Add to that the energy of exploration, drilling, transporting etc.

    Teslas, or any BEV, *can* be powered completely by the owner's solar array/wind generator if necessary. In the UK it might require a good number of panels and room to mount them but it can be done and without depriving others of the energy, wind turbine 'dead zone' downwind notwithstanding.
    --
     
  16. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    While technically true as others have noted refineries make most of their own power which creates considerable pollution. I can say our Plat site used less than 5% grid electric which is true. But the other side of the story is we have 21 boilers and use 70 rail cars of coal each day for the internally made power. So if you look at the energy needed for a gal of gas 4.5 KWH is on the conservative side.
     
  17. AndY1

    AndY1 Member

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    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/strategies/consultations/doc/2009_03_27_future_of_transport/20090408_eabev_%28scientific_study%29.pdf

     
  18. Jeff N

    Jeff N Active Member

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    Notice how those numbers depend upon excluding hybrids. So, these numbers are not really about petrol cars, they are about obsolete petrol cars. This is what the fuel cell crowd likes to benchmark against as well. It really says nothing about the viability of a petrol-based transportation system if you exclude modern efficient petrol cars.

    I think we need to quickly transition towards a combination of efficient hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs where individual vehicles make sense in different environments and driving patterns over the next 20-30 years. EVs clearly need to be a huge part of that and we need to aggressively clean up the grid generally and not just for transportation use.

    Let's come up with solutions based on reality and not simplistic propaganda like excluding the efficient versions of petrol cars in order to argue that petrol cars are inefficient. EU vehicle efficiency ratings are more lenient than the US EPA ratings. For example, my 2011 Volt/Ampera was rated under NEDC as 47 mpg (US gallons) just running on the gas engine whereas EPA said 37 mpg. Just using EPA numbers, a Prius gets 50 mpg and EPA/GREET figures a gallon of petrol would emits 24.4 pounds or about 11.1 kg of CO2 WTW. So that's about 222g per mile. Under a NEDC rating of 62 mpg for a Prius that would be around 180g per mile which is not much different than your EV numbers there.
     
  19. AndY1

    AndY1 Member

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    Really? I found Prius mentioned in the document 22-times, starting with:

     
  20. qwertzy

    qwertzy Member

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    How do EVs Compare with Gas-Powered Vehicles? Better Every Year…. - The Equation

    I don't think ICE are more than 30% efficient, that's the electric motor doing most of the work.
     

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