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Posts Tagged ‘carbon footprint’

What’s Going To Happen To Your Vehicle’s Lithium Battery At the End Of Its Life?

by September 12, 2011

Energy consumed in transportation has been the focus of a number of recent posts here, including one contemplating the use of smiley faces to help drivers understand the impact of their behavioral choices, and one exploring why the cost-benefit balance is tipped against the purchase of a hybrid car based on fuel savings alone. Another big issue to consider with either a hybrid or an all-electric vehicle is the battery, which necessarily needs to pack a lot of charge, both by being large and, increasingly, by using metals like lithium.

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How a lithium-ion battery works: This illustration shows the inner workings of a lithium-ion battery. When delivering energy to a device, the lithium ion moves from the anode to the cathode. The ion moves in reverse when recharging. Compared to other rechargeable batteries, lithium-ion batteries can store more energy in smaller, lighter packages. This unsurpassed energy-to-weight ratio make them the battery of choice for consumer electronics like cell phones and laptops, but also a great fit for electrified vehicles. Illustration and text courtesy Argonne National Laboratory and was accessed on Flickr.

A recent post about the prevalence of rare earth metals highlighted how much there is to know about the components used to make current vehicles based on new technologies, like hybrid drive trains. Massive supplies of elements like lithium are going to be key to permit scale-up of hybrid and all-electric vehicles requiring lithium batteries. Supply can come from mining operations, as well as recycling. An article a few days ago in the NY Times Business section highlighted the reality that there is no consensus on how electric car batteries should be recycled or reused. (more…)

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Los Angeles Hosts First Pipeline-Fed Hydrogen Fueling Station In The US

by May 12, 2011

A Toyota Highlander hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle at the opening of the hydrogen filling station in Torrance, Calif. (NY Times)

A Toyota Highlander hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle at the opening of the hydrogen filling station in Torrance, Calif. (NY Times)

A recent post for TechCrunch by Lora Kolodny highlights the opening of the first US pipeline-fed hydrogen station last Tuesday.  The station is located in Southern California, just adjacent to the Toyota sales and marketing building in Torrance.

Because of the inherent complexity of mobile energy, this topic is of interest to Dialogue Earth.  We are working to provide quality, non-advocacy information to help understand complicated issues related to the environment.  A discussion about hydrogen vehicles raises the issue of greenhouse gas, and indirectly, carbon footprints.  It is important to understand the energy inputs and emissions resulting from all energy sources, including those billed as green.

For a taste of the challenge, my research suggests that most industrial hydrogen, including the hydrogen produced at the plants in Wilmington and Carson, is made through the reformation of hydrocarbons — a process that is purported to increase the energy yield from hydrocarbons to a yield of 80%. Air products claims that this increase in yield is “equivalent to avoiding more than 10 new refineries between 1976 and 2006 along with related carbon footprint during Hydrogen production their construction and operation.”

But how do fuel cells stack up against battery electric vehicles? Or vehicles that use other alternative fuels, such as hybrids?  There are a lot of facts out there, disseminated from all sorts of voices.

This is one niche that Dialogue Earth works to fill. Not by providing people with what they should do, but rather providing people with trustworthy content packed with facts, devoid of special interests, that inform people and assist them in making their own decisions.

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