One of the most critical criticisms of electric cars is that they are not as environmentally friendly as one might think, claiming that it takes years of driving to offset the high emissions from battery manufacturing.
However, a new report says electric cars will become more economical in the future if manufacturers switch to using solid-state batteries, claiming they will cut the carbon footprint of electric cars by almost a quarter.
A study by British materials experts says carbon emissions could be cut by two-fifths if these next-generation batteries were made from the greenest materials available.
Electric cars could be much greener by the end of the decade: models that use solid-state batteries will cut production-related emissions by a quarter, a new report says
Greenhouse gas emissions during the production of electric vehicles are significantly higher than the equivalent gasoline model, which is mainly due to the carbon intensity of battery and steel production.
The difference is so large that experts believe it could be years before the environmental benefits of an electric car are realized.
Volvo made bold claims last year that it could take up to 70,000 miles – or nine years of ownership on average in the UK – for one of its electric cars to become more environmentally friendly than an internal combustion engine alternativein particular, the impact of the production of batteries with a high carbon content.
However, experts in the field say a more accurate estimate is between 13,500 and 16,000 miles – about two years of driving – to offset the additional carbon footprint of producing electric cars.
Research center Green Transport & Environment (T&E) says that will all change in the next few years, when electric vehicle manufacturers are expected to start using next-generation solid-state batteries.
The campaign group believes this is the technology that will power the new electric cars of the second half of the decade.
These batteries require up to 35 percent more lithium than the current lithium-ion technology found in most modern electric vehicles, but solid-state batteries require far less graphite and cobalt.
They also use a solid ceramic material instead of liquid electrolytes to conduct electricity, making them lighter, faster to charge and – potentially – cheaper.
Although solid-state batteries are made of less material, they are able to store much more energy, which means that they not only provide a longer range, but are also much less emissions-intensive in their production and can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of production of electric vehicles.
A study by Transport & Environment suggests that a solid-state battery made from environmentally friendly materials would reduce the carbon footprint of current electric vehicles by up to 39%
Electric car battery experts estimate it takes between 13,500 and 16,000 miles, equivalent to two years of UK ownership, to offset the extra carbon footprint of producing an electric car
The T&E report says they will reduce the carbon footprint of electric car production by about 24 percent.
And if the batteries use materials from the cleanest sources, the CO2 reduction benefits are predicted to be even greater, at around 39 percent.
To achieve the latter, producers would also need to adopt new mining methods, including extracting lithium from geothermal wells – pioneered by Cornish Lithium among others – and found to significantly reduce climate impact than more commonly used sources such as Hard rock lithium is mined in Australia and refined in China.
The calculation was made on behalf of the Green Vehicles Group by Minviro, a British company specializing in life cycle analysis of raw materials, which compared the NMC-811 solid-state battery with current lithium-ion technology.
Commenting on the research findings, Matt Finch, director of T&E UK, said: “Electric cars in the UK already produce significantly lower emissions than cars burning oil, and this is improving every year as electricity becomes greener.
“But solid-state technology will achieve incremental change, requiring far fewer materials, and causing even less damage to the environment.”
Solid-state batteries require more lithium than current electric vehicles, but much less graphite and cobalt. They also use a solid ceramic material instead of liquid electrolytes to conduct electricity, making them lighter, faster to charge and – potentially – cheaper
T&E said the UK’s low-carbon electricity production positions it as a leader in cleaner battery production, but it needs strong safeguards to ensure raw materials are consistently sourced sustainably and recycled at end-of-life.
The requirements in the proposed EU Battery Regulation for lithium, which must be sourced responsibly – in terms of environmental and social impact – and recycled, is a “no regrets” policy that ensures there is an adequate supply of solid-state batteries.
No equivalent requirements are planned in the UK.
“The EU is introducing new rules to clean up the way batteries are sourced and require the reuse and recycling of old cells,” Mr Finch added.
“But there are no equivalent plans in the UK and as a result there are three times as many battery recycling plants planned in Germany.
“The UK is literally throwing away the opportunity to cut raw material imports, create new jobs and reduce the impact of battery manufacturing.”
T&E says the UK government should implement similar but better rules than those proposed by the EU, including tougher lithium recycling targets.
UK regulations should also ensure that companies have a duty to protect human rights and the environment at all stages of battery production.
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The report says that solid-state batteries will cut the carbon footprint of electric vehicles by a quarter
Source link The report says that solid-state batteries will cut the carbon footprint of electric vehicles by a quarter