Not so long ago, excitement rose to a fevered pitch with the announcement of a budget Tesla car slated to hit the streets in 2017. The cars are gorgeous, seemingly easy on the environment and in a price range the average Joe can afford. But over the last few years, there have been disgruntled murmurings about how electric vehicles aren’t that environmentally sound.
Some feel they can actually be worse for the planet than combustion engines, since they often rely on conventional electricity sources to recharge. So while the idea is appealing in theory, the reality isn’t so rosy when we look at their actual impact. The same can be said for other technologies like hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid cars.
The Trouble with Electric Vehicles
But critics say electric vehicles simply “extend the tailpipe” since the electricity to charge the battery needs to come from somewhere, many times from fossil fuels like coal-burning plants, natural gas (think fracking) or diesel generators. If you’re not a fan of nuclear power, be warned, it most likely plays a role in powering your electric car too.
The vanadium redox flow battery (VRB) has received wide attention due to its attractive features for large scale energy storage. The key material of a VRB is an ion exchange membrane (IEM) that prevents cross mixing of the positive and negative electrolytes, while still allowing the transport of ions to complete the circuit during the passage of current.
Of course there are other power sources — like wind, solar and hydro. Keep in mind that solar isn’t all that clean because the manufacturing process releases greenhouse gases like sulfur hexafluoride, which has 23,000 times as much global warming potential as CO2. Moreover, it takes fossil fuels to extract the raw materials to make solar cells and wind turbines — including manufacturing, assembly and maintenance. Hydro has come under fire in recent years because of its impact on local ecosystems.
And then there’s the actual manufacturing of an electric car, which involves using specialty materials and the mining of rare- earth metals for the magnets in the motors, which are costly to extract and difficult to come by.
For example, at a Jiangxi, China rare-earth mine, workers dig eight foot holes and pour ammonium sulfate to dissolve the clay. The muddy mixture is then hauled out and passed through numerous acid baths — whatever remains is dried in a kiln, which leaves behind the rare-earth metals. Only 0.2 percent of what’s pulled out is usable, the other 99.8 percent is now contaminated with toxins and unloaded back into the environment.
“Part of the impact arises from manufacturing. Because battery packs are heavy (the battery accounts for more than a third of the weight of the Tesla Roadster, for example), manufacturers work to lighten the rest of the vehicle. As a result, electric car components contain many lightweight materials that are energy intensive to produce and process—carbon composites and aluminum in particular. Electric motors and batteries add to the energy of electric-car manufacture.” [source]
What’s more, the batteries will degrade overtime — it’s estimated you lose about 40% of the battery life within 16 years for a Tesla in the best case scenario. Unfortunately, we don’t have a cost-effective recycling program in place at the moment. And Tesla batteries are big — weighing in at a half a ton.
But if you’re willing to pay the freight back to the Tesla factory, they will recycle all battery packs returned to them. For lower end electric vehicles, battery packs will typically last ten years with 60-70 percent battery life at that point. For those models that are not liquid cooled (Nissan Leaf is one), living in a hot climate can degrade the battery sooner — in under five years.
But what if there were a better way to fuel our cars, one that doesn’t rely on the power grid or having to replace batteries after a decade of use? The folks at nanoFlowcell have stepped up to the plate and developed the world’s first car to run off saltwater.
An Eco-Friendly Sports Car with Zip
Imagine filling up at the pump not with polluting gasoline, but a special type of non-toxic saltwater. And instead of weak horsepower and driving range, the car can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds — with a top speed of 236 mph — and drive for up to 373 miles between fuelings. Seem too good to be true? Not so in Europe, where the Quant e-Sportlimosine has gone from prototype to reality, soon to be seen on roads in Germany.
How does it work?
The tank is filled with ionic fluid, which is inexpensive to manufacture, non-toxic, non-flammable and has an unlimited shelf life. The ionic fuel pumps are similar to a standard gasoline pumps, with one important difference — two liquids (one positively charged and one negatively charged) are pumped simultaneously into two separate tanks within the vehicle.
Both liquids contain metallic salts that, when combined, create an electrochemical reaction and sent to a fuel cell. Electricity is created and stored in super capacitors and then sent to the four electric motors.
Granted, the manufacturing of the vehicle is energy and material intensive. But it’s a major improvement over electric cars simply because, once made, it doesn’t rely on the power grid in any way, shape or form — and the car is completely non-polluting to run. The developers of the Quant e-Sportlimosine are optimistic.
“This is only the beginning of our journey of discovery. Now that the automobile has been approved for use on public roads in Germany and Europe, we can enter into detailed planning with our partners, adding an exciting new chapter to the future of electro-mobility.” [source]
The company hopes to expand the technology into powering aircraft, homes, railways and freight transport.
The Quant e-Sportlimosine is an incredibly expensive prototype, but the follow up family models, starting with the Quantino, should finally compete in price with other electric cars.
However to be more than one more reformist ecological corner of the hugely destructive motor market the QUANT needs public backing and tax breaks as potentially a priceless weapon against the coming Climate Emergency.
How the Vanadium Redox Battery (VRB) Works
Make it yourself. Free Electricity creation with Salt Water. YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODbgKXFED5o
- New ‘Quantino’ Electric Car Gets Powered By Electrolyte Fuel : Car …
About the author:
Carolanne Wright enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years.
Through her website Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world