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The Truth Will Out.

(This is a fairly long blog, but I think it's fairly important)
I recently blogged about a BBC report which hit the newswires with gusto last week. ‘Electric cars pose an environmental risk?’ asked the click-bait headline.
I read the article, then I read the report but I didn’t have the scientific acumen or indeed zeal to delve further.
So, after a bit of research and some helpful steers by the Twitterati, I came across some interesting comments from a Chemical engineer in the USA called Dan Fichana who revealed the following interesting facts about the much-touted report.
The study the BBC news site referred to with such enthusiasm was from the NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology).  
Norway is a major oil and gas producer and this particular university has a partnership with Statoil.
They fund the Center for Integrated Operations in the Petroleum Industry. Nothing wrong with that, it’s on the public record, it’s not covert and I fully support such arrangements.
The NTNU is in Trondheim, the same city where SINTEF (An independent industrial research organization) runs their Petroleum Research Laboratory also in partnership with NTNU. According to NTNU's web site, the lab has 750 people which would make it a rather significant operation.
Trondheim is also the city where Statoil is building a $42 million dollar research facility.
This year the NTNU hosted "Statoil Day" to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Statoil.
Of the four authors of the report the BBC highlighted, the only professor is Anders Hammer Strømman. He belongs to the Department of Energy and Process Engineering. That department works with SINTEF and is headed by Olav Bolland, who won the Statoil Award for Outstanding Research in 2011, which includes a cash prize of roughly $35,000, plus a work of art.
As Mr Fichana points out, this information is purely circumstantial, but it's more than enough to be at least skeptical of these people and their possible motives.
The gist of the Norwegian report was on the total Life Cycle Assessment or LCA of an electric car when compared to a petrol/diesel vehicle.
It seems they might have made one or two teeny weeny error-ettes. 
When they calculated the materials that went into making electric motors for cars, they accidentally used a static electric motor (the sort of thing you’d use to drive a large milling machine or industrial lathe) instead of a small, compact motor that would be found in a Nissan Leaf or similar car. Their calculations were for a 1,000 kg motor, the motor in the Nissan Leaf weighs 53kg. 
As you can imagine, an error of this magnitude could skew the figures rather badly. 
So why does it matter? 
Well, their entire prognosis rests on the amounts of materials used and the ability to re-cycle those materials efficiently and economically at the end of the car’s life.
A 1,000 kg motor contains 91 kg of copper, copper is expensive and it’s mining and production has, without question, a negative environmental impact. All cars use a lot of copper, the wiring loom, the starter motor etc. Electric cars use a little bit more, that phrase is accurate, they use a little bit more. Not 90kg more.
The report also ‘casually misjudges’ the size, weight and copper content of the frequency inverter, the bit of an electric car that transforms the AC current fed in from the electricity supply, into the DC current stored in the battery.
These units do indeed contain copper but the report happened to measure a large, industrial scale frequency inverter you’d find in a factory tool shop. The factory one contains 36kg of copper, the one in the Nissan Leaf is 6.2 kg, total weight, most of which is the steel box it's housed in.
They then analysed battery chemistry which no EV maker uses, battery capacity that no plug in car uses, then skewed the figures of how much coal is burned to generate the power to charge the non existent batteries in the mythical car.
Essentially, the report is trash from start to finish. It's sad really because it raised some very important points. The main one being we really should stop burning coal to make electricity. That I totally support. But in their zeal to prove their utterly spurious point they pushed too far. They've shot themselves in the foot and the BBC likewise.
What we need, as consumers, is to know the true well to wheel, mine to scrapyard, oil rig to petrol pump, power station to plug socket data so we can truthfully decide which technology is preferable. We also need to know who is producing these figures and what possible agenda they might have. 
If you are of a mind to inform the BBC, and indeed the Norwegian University of Science and Technology of some fairly painfully obvious errors in this much-trumpeted report, be my guest. 
I’m bored of being ‘furious of the Cotswolds.’
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71 comments
 
+Robert Llewellyn is there a better report on the true environmental costs of electric cars? Because the BBC report has made me think about it at least - if only because this could be a game-changer for the electric car industry.
 
People who have valid points to make rarely need to resort to fabricating or misleading in order to make that point.
 
Nice analysis. It is rather painful to read as I cannot imagine how a competent scientific peer review would not have picked at least some of these issues up. +Robert Llewellyn does it say who (if anyone) peer reviewed it?
 
was this report even peer reviewed before the BBC (and others) ran with it? Or was it sponsored by J. Clarkson Esq & Co?
Yours,
Shocked of Dorset
 
I don't know about you, but it's becoming easier to trust myself when reports like this first come out and I think "That doesn't sound quite right..." Whilst there is still plenty of room for detailed analysis, broad-brush statements are becoming easier to spot when they're spurious as the science is becoming better and better. (Hurrah!)
 
There is no honour at the BBC anymore (and hasn't been since 9/11)
They'll report whatever they're told, at the discrimination of whichever political interest is pulling their strings these days!

How can anyone trust the network that reported the collapse of Tower 7 (the one people forget collapsed on 9/11 despite not being hit by a plane) fully 20 minutes before it actually happened, and with the building itself standing right behind the apparently-psychic reporter?
 
I think it's only petrol heads who fail to see that EVs are far greener than internal combustion vehicles.
 
I am truly shocked that the BBC of all media outlets (as in paid for by british taxpayers) would be gullible enough to run with a report with such massive errors.

How it got past any type of peer review is completely beyond me.
 
This does piss me off rather a lot (excuse my language) because the general public is unlikely to do this sort of digging.  The general public will probably just trust the BBC and the BBC has a responsibility to make sure they report the truth because of this.  Even those (like me) who don't trust the BBC are likely to trust their sources if they appear genuine on a cursory inspection.  Few will delve into the details like Robert has in order to expose the gaping holes in the purportedly reputable source material.

The report prays on the doubts of the many.  We know how 'un-green' copper is to mine & refine.  We also know how bad some of the constituents of batteries can be for the environment.  The report concentrates on these areas and exaggerates the truth or even blatantly lies in order to support the agenda of their sponsor.  It makes me sick with rage that people do this wilfully!
 
+James Hammond I'm sorry that you're only just coming to the realization that the BBC has zero credibility.

Like I said before: the BBC is just another outlet for the propaganda of whichever political interest(s) pulling their strings these days!
 
Unfortunately the public are likely to trust the word of the BBC as an 'Expert'. It would appear (and has done many times) that the BBC are still people and can be just as wrong as anyone else.

I think there are an increasing number of people (especially on Twitter) who trust the word of +Robert Llewellyn a lot more than that of the BBC on matters such as this.

Recent news stories have suggested the BBC are not that credible in other fields either. Enough said.
 
+Mike Rees  You are correct, I am hugely biased, I don't hide it and anyone reading my blogs/tweets can easily see that. I am not a news outlet, I am an individual with a very clear agenda, I am biased. Proud of it.
The BBC on the other hand are a trusted news source and I would always defend the majority of their output as very balanced and well researched. They indeed are not meant to be biased but on this particular topic they do seem to lean very strongly toward the Top Gear lobby.
This is just shoddy journalism, not my main criticism  The University report however, is shocking in its bias, touting itself as a 'scientific report' when it's possible, I'm only saying possible, it is anything but.
 
+Robert Llewellyn indeed, and I'd like to make it clear that my espousing your bias is not a criticism, it's just a statement. It's just disappointing that there are supposedly people turning to you in favour of the BBC over the issue of bias. In reality that's an issue of positive reinforcement.
 
Journalism is all opinion and agenda based nowadays.  Journalistic integrity died long ago, IMO.
 
"They've shot themselves in the foot and the BBC likewise." The BBC offered their foot blindly like they always do. The journalist could have written a balanced piece if they'd put the time and effort in, but the BBC has become just like the rest of them and recycles press releases without doing the research. They deserve to look foolish.
 
+Kris Vosper while that is true to some extent, arguably it has always been the case. The key is to spread far and wide, and read from all walks of life. For example, I'm libertarian but I still read the new statesman, the guardian, the times and the mail despite the the express being the only national paper media organisation that even starts to write towards my belief system. If you are interested in media with a relatively reliable reputation, you should consume Al Jazeera and RT (formerly Russia Today). I feel like journalists for these organisations at least make effort to hide their bias.
 
+Robert Llewellyn You may be biased (as you say, you are), but if there's one thing nobody can deny it is that you present each point from the standpoint of proven/provable fact. You admit when you don't know something, you (admirably) attempt to research what you don't know, and you never claim as fact your opinions.

Bias or no, you can still be considered credible simply because you clearly differentiate between the facts and your opinions.
Perhaps the BBC (and the media in general) could learn a thing of three from you!
 
And another thing: if people are stupid enough to believe anything they read in a so-called "article" with a questionmark in the title, then there clearly are far greater concerns for society than electric vs gasoline cars!

To the issue of relative polution based on the production of lithium batteries for EVs... has anyone ever actually bothered comparing the waste/pollution involved in the production of the literally-billions of Lead-Acid batteries in use all over the world just to make a petrol/disel vehicle start turning when the driver turns the key?

There is not a single aspect of an electric vehicle that is more polluting or "environmentally unfriendly" than its gasoline-powered counterpart. Anyone who claims otherwise is either naive/misinformed, or peddling an agenda!
 
+Robert Llewellyn The touting of headline-grabbing, anti-establishment pseudo-science is nothing new. There's plenty of examples of it. The MMR scare is a great example, and there are still people who believe there is a link between MMR and autism (in case there is doubt, there isn't, there never was). That deception was the fault of the press, including the BBC. And it was a deliberate deception, as the real evidence was available to the press, including the BBC, and they simply refused to acknoweldge it yet alone to report on it. On the contrary, they continued to spread the deception.
Misrepresenting the facts (or, as I like to call it, "being a liar") about sustainability looks to be a similar case.

Respectfully, I would disagree with you about who is to blame. Dodgy research is abundant and will always happen because there are incompetent or corrupt scientists out there willing to be bought, because well-performed scientific studies are cherry-picked for information, or because supposed "scientific" studies aren't actually that at all (either not performed to scientific standards, or just made up).

The press are reporting these things, and they have a duty to report on them responsibly. Every press outlet have their scientific correspondents and advisers, but it appears they chose to bypass scrutiny by them in favour of the "juicy story". It's bad journalism. It's irresponsible journalism. Unfortunately it has become the norm and the age of "breaking news" and other journalistic titillations  the BBC have succumbed to the market pressures to lower their standards to compete with the Daily Mail's of this world.

By the way, if you haven't already read it, I recommend the +Ben Goldacre book "Bad Science" which gives an excellent critique of the misrepresentation of science, especially in the press.
 
+Simon Stuart your battery comment reminds me of a question I have often pondered (which has probably been answered in a previous episode of Fully Charged that I have missed) but I wonder if anyone can tell me why hybrid cars usually still have a lead acid battery for starting the engine, in addition to the lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries for the electric motor(s)?

I also agree with your statement; electric cars are not clean, they're just cleaner than their petrol/diesel counterparts.  Yes, even when the electricity comes from a fossil fuel power station, because that power station is far more efficient at turning its fuel into electricity than a petrol car is at turning its fuel into motion.
 
just a guess +James Field but i would think it is easier to install a standard engine layout, and then an electric or indeed gas layout as the secondary power, than it is to create a completely unique install.

they have the ignition and power circuit for the petrol engine all worked out and leaving the battery out means extra changes to the wiring.
also no need to factor in drain on the Li-Ion due to starting!
 
+James Field a hybrid is designed to be run until the batteries are exhausted. In such a circumstance if you stopped the car, you wouldn't be able to start it again. Also the headlights, wipers, etc. wouldn't work You either need a separate battery, or you need a way to reserve some of the Li-x batteries power for such things. My guess is a separate battery is easier/safer.
 
+richard brooks respectfully I must disagree! The use of a lead-acid battery in petrol cars is (first and foremost) to engage the Starter Motor (a small electric motor which initiates the revolution of the engine).

The reason they still have a lead-acid battery in Hybrids is so that the car can still operate if there's a fault of any kind with the electric motors and/or battery pack (such as a completely flat battery).

Indeed, the way cars like the Prius are configured, the gasoline engine automatically fires up when the Lithium batteries reach a certain level of discharge. At that point, there's too little charge left in the lithium cells (above the reserve, anyway) to suitably turn the starter motor.

Also, the alternator is used to charge the lead-acid battery (because that technology is tried and tested), and the lead-acid battery then charges the lithium cells. This is because lead-acid batteries respond just fine to irregular current. Most alternators spike anywhere from 11 to 65 volts. Do that to a lithium cell that expects a constant voltage and it'll fry quicker than you can say "eureka!"
It's inefficient, but it's an easy shortcut!
 
+Paul Newport if +Ben Goldacre is to believed (and I don't see why not), they have such a BS meter (in the form of science correspondence or scientific advisers), but editors generally avoid using them for fear of derailing a juicy story.
 
The article does go on to claim that there are generally likely to be benefits, using current technology, in the 10-30% range, depending on power mix and lifetime. But the BBC's summary says something completely different. Whom do I sue?
 
Interesting how the enviromental radicals and Leftists in general get all worked up ONLY when a news outlet acts bias in a way they don't agree with !

In other words the BBC is calling down the line when they agree with the Leftist

But if they dare disagree with holy cult of Leftist Religion they become bias anf despicable....

Mr Llewellyn is simply displaying how Leftists are selectivly "Open Minded" even when he makes some valid points.
 
+Allan Nichols I don't see how this is left or right. But even if it was, that is generally the way free speech works, isn't it? Everyone defends their own position but is under no obligation to defend their opponents. Or have I been doing it wrong all these years?
 
+Allan Nichols why would you get worked up when someone agrees with you?

We all ONLY get worked up with the opposition!
we all only argue when someone puts forward a point we disagree with! Mr Llewellyn is not calling all scientists biased, or all BBC reporting biased, just saying this article may have a shaky foundation!

and frankly any science based position, that cannot be defended against question or challenge, is not worth holding!

I will have to work through the article in depth and the BBC report as well, BUT if indeed the calculations used for the report, are made using grossly exaggerated weights and values the whole argument fails.
 
So pretty much as valid as the "Hummer is more environmentally sound than a Prius" report that still gets trotted out from time to time...
 
+James Field  At last, a technical question I can answer! All pure electric and hybrid cars have a 12 volt lead acid battery not for starting the engine, but for running all the peripheral systems on the car. Wipers, lights, indicators, radio, sat nav etc etc. This is because those parts are mass produced on a huge scale, the technology is very well developed and it's a much simpler/cheaper to use standard parts in the car than develop new systems that can run off the much larger and more powerful drive battery. These smaller batteries are charged when the car is moving from small generators turned by the wheels, in the case of the Nissan Leaf they also receive a trickle charge through the battery management system when the car is plugged in.
 
Unfortunately on a Prius, the 12V battery also powers the engine control systems, so you can't start the car if the 12V battery is flat, even if the main battery pack is fine. You can't jump-start it either. (Been there, done that.)
 
And yet today I had to put up with listening to Portillo whining on about how the BBC is centre-left, hippy, anti-big-business, pro-global-warming, anti-fossil-fuel etc. and won't let any capitalist POV be broadcast on thier show.
This program was on Radio 4, by the way, which I found slightly ironic!
 
This is a great analysis. At the time I wondered about the integrity of the report but wonder is all I did. 

Thank you for bringing this to all of our eyes. Now to reshare the hell out of it
 
Not that I don't trust +Robert Llewellyn but now knowing what I'm looking for I looked up a few of the references and this appears to be true... http://www05.abb.com/global/scot/scot201.nsf/veritydisplay/b08f050a41d0e078c1256d2800402afc/$file/epd_acs_800_250kw_121102.pdf doesn't look like it belongs in a car, and the weights agree with those he states. I've published physics papers before and there is no chance in hell anything like that would get through. I appalled that it was published, and embarrassed I made the assumption that since it was peer reviewed it must have reasonable references. I won't be so naive next time.
 
+Robert Llewellyn if I recall correctly Google+ posts do not index in Google. You would be better off posting it to a blog and linking to it here, otherwise it may not get the level of interest it deserves. I'm sure someone will correct me if my belief is outdated.
 
Public Google+ do show in Google's index. Private or restricted posts will only show up if the searcher has access to see them. For an example, log out of Google and search for "frotterday".
 
I just want a vehicle that I can take really long car trips in that's clean for the environment, is that so much to ask? :-)
 
+Joseph Loder For now, yes. Pushbikes, on the other hand, are a cheap, reliable and proven technology. Wouldn't it be great if we all just parked our cars, got out pushbikes and refused to buy anything with an internal combustion engine? I bet that would concentrate minds in a number of motowns.
 
+Will Ross Would rather limit anyone more than, say, 20 miles from their local metropolis, though ... great for 5-10 mile round trips and city commuting, but try doing a weekly shop from your supermarket that's 30 miles (up to two hours each way) away ...
 
Indeed. That would certainly toughen us up.
 
+Will Ross we would all love to live somewhere that is both close enough to local services and clement enough to cycle in.  The harsh reality for some of us is that having a car is essential.

The method of propelling the car for a great many of us non-city-dwellers is not an issue, it's cost alone that will determine what we use.  Unfortunately the great many of us non-city-dwellers can just afford to continue using the clapped out petrol/diesel vehicles that we currently own.  A new car for us is really a newer second hand car and until there is a second-hand electric car market, most likely provided by our city-dwelling neighbours, my next few cars will probably be petrol/diesel driven.
 
Currently we have people having a cargo cult like faith in scientists, as if they always have our best interests in mind. Scientists are human beings and like politicians are susceptible to financial inducements...as are we all.
 
+Niall Fernie I'm afraid you're probably right that we can't simply rewind the clock half a century to the days when most people lived within cycling distance of work and shops. How clever we were to get away from tedious reality by exploiting a technology which we knew would last less than a century. 

Still: 1. if even the city dwellers moved to bicycles, that would exert significant pressure on the industry and 2. it's amazing what you can get used to if you have to.
 
Thanks for the clarification on just how they fouled this up. It was always poppycock to put it on EV's that humanity chooses to do crazy things like burning coal to get electricity instead of using the clean options we know how to build. 

Recycling is another thing as well. Copper is very easy (comparatively speaking) to recycle and almost all of it can be. That we don't recycle the lot is on us, not something that cannot change. There is no need to dig up all-new copper constantly if we just do the sane thing... but society today isn't even slightly predicated on doing things the right way, just the cheap way. And that's why we're on target to see a 6-degree temperature hike eventually, thus wiping out most life on the planet, including most human life. 
 
I have read through the calculations they have done, since they have published also the Excel table. They are +77Kg to much in Copper estimates and around +68Kg in Aluminium. I have only compared the EMotor, the Power Inverter and the HV charger. Sad to see how public scientific institutions bend the numbers as thew wish...
 
Robert - like +juanma Mico  I read the paper, downloaded the data. In the original excel file, the engine weight is 139kg, with inverters it is a ridiculous 378kg - but not 1000kg. Who is Dan Fichana? Can't find him. Beware... even if the numbers are still wrong, any rebuttal must use the right numbers...
 
Emailed the BBC about this.  They replied that the reporting of the study was clear, i.e. they summarised a study which was clearly biased and wrong, but they summarised it accurately.  Well that's OK then.  
 
+Robert Llewellyn 
These are serious accusations. I am the first author of this study and would have been more than happy to discuss your concerns with you if you had contacted me directly. Others did so and we were able to work together to improve upon our study. We have published a corrigendum to present the updated results. 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jiec.12011/full

This post and some of the responses attack my credibility as a researcher with insinuations about my objectivity. In the future, please contact me directly if you have concerns about my work.
hawkins.troy [at] epa.gov
 
+Troy Hawkins Not sure you've done your credibility as a researcher much good, I'm afraid. Your audience are not there as a safety net to pick up errors in your work: that is part of your job.

The BBC was contacted at the time this came out, but it appears that you did not get the feedback promptly. That is really not +Robert Llewellyn 's fault.

If you feel the attacks are unfair, do feel free to rebut them: we all want a balanced and reliable view. But I think enough doubts have been raised and put in the public domain that we do need to see a point by point discussion.
 
Also - a Prius? You based your new data on a Prius? Seriously? That's not even an EV - it's a ICEV with a small battery designed to make uneducated celebrities feel like they're going 'green'
 
They have even my name in the acknowledgements section. :) the excel table and the emails were worth. Good 
 
+Steve Giller they have used in the new data a nissan leaf as model parameter base, not a Prius 
 
+juanma Mico The correction states "... from the mass decomposition of three commercial EV motors (60–100 kW; Burress et al. 2011)." and the linked reference is: "Burress, T. A., S. L. Campbell, C. L. Coomer, C. W. Ayers, A. A. Wereszczak, J. P. Cunningham, L. D. Marlino, L. E. Seiber, and H. T. Lin. 2011. Evaluation of the 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid synergy drive system. Oak Ridge, TN, USA: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy."
In what way is that not using data from the Prius?
 
@Steve Giller. He based the "mass decomposition" from the Leaf Motor, based on the "mass decomposition" of other EV motors with comparable power. That is how I understand it, and for me, does look reasonable. In the end, the Electric motor from a Prius, is still an electric motor (from the same type, and with similar power than the one from the Leaf).
+Troy Hawkins At least me contacting one of the autors of the article has been possible only due to the post from +Robert Llewellyn However, Troy Hawkins should not be "attacked" too much, since they posted the full excel table and data they used, so that everybody could look at it. That is transparent! +1 from me. 
 
Thanks, +juanma Mico . Credit where credit's due. Some of the comments suggested fairly extreme errors. Are we all comfortable about the corrected report?
 
+Simon Kay

My name is Dan Fichana,  what was used, was my arguement that someone was taking the LCA conducted by the author and using to scale up based on kwhr of the batteries for a Tesla Model S which is wrong in terms of LCA. That blogger that I was referring to also failed to consider differences in materials.
I had previously coauthored a book and my chapter focused primary on life cycle assessments as did my thesis. 
The main issue I had with the paper is that they under estimated the battery life and used batteries which no EVs uses.  Yes, had an EV used iron phosphate batteries, eutrophication would be high, but that is a function of nitrates and phosphates, so if you use iron phosphate, yes, it's going to be extremely high, if you use lithium titanate, or NCA (nickel cobalt aluminum), not so much.  The other battery they used was NCM (nickel cobalt manganese, again, no one uses it currently).  LCAs are VERY, VERY specific to input materials.

I also did not like the fact that the paper used 150,000 km; that's 93,000 miles.  The commonly accepted figure is ~250,000 km or 155000 miles (US DOT 12.5K per year , ~13 year car lifespan). 

It also fails to consider recycling and the end of car life use of the batteries.  It's expected that the batteries will have substantial capacity left during the end of the car life which could be used for other purposes, but the LCA allocates all virgin material resources to Ev production which is wrong.

Now, if you dig in further, you get to peak vs off peak charging, this depends on who you ask.  In the US, peakers cite NG and coal as the source, optimists cite solar as the source, night chargers cite base nuclear and coal as the source.  In the peakers and night, you are talking about maybe 500 g CO2 per kwhr for a full LCA, or enough for roughly 3 miles, of course the grid is getting cleaner though.  If you use solar or wind, it's much, much less. Also as you get more and more involved, those base coal plants may emit less due to carbon capture techniques.  

So to sum it up wrong materials, lower than normal mileage, attributing virgin material, and failing to consider end of car life uses for batteries. 
There's too many errors, some of which could have been corrected with better assumptions
 
So, Dan, who are you? What's your book? Where did you do your PhD? And what exactly is the conclusion of your comment above?
 
Not a PhD, just a masters in Chem eng. and focused my thesis on life cycle assessments at Rowan University (typically places in top 3 for schools for Chem Eng where a MS is the highest degree).

The book is called:
"Handbook of industrial chemistry and biotechnology"

My co-authored chapter was:
Green Engineering-Integration of Green Chemistry, Pollution Prevention, and Risk-Based Considerations

My conclusion is the LCA they used odd data, and the conclusions got royally screwed up.  Had they used actual DOT numbers (not low ball Ford and Chrysler data), actual EV battery chemistry, and actual US grid data, their conclusions would have been remarkably in favor of the EV instead of the just partially in favor of EVs. 

What you have to understand is LCAs can be tweaked (but still within the ISO standard) to make one product look better than another dependent on what assumptions you make; good assumptiosn make good LCAs, bad assumptions result in invalid LCAs. 
 
Simon what really jumped out at me with the study was the following:
"lifetimes found in the literature range between 150,000 and 300,000 km (Hawkins et al. 2012). " but they used 150000 km.

Thats what really caused me to dig and look more critically. Then there was the shattering the battery and no end use, despite what EV manufacturers are chattering about otherwise.

Personally, if i was conducting an LCA since these exist, is to take apart an EV and a regular car and weigh the components. Then you get values that are accurate and repeatable.





 
Here's what i would do to conduct the LCA on an EV
1. Use the Focus EV as my EV standard (you'll realize why in a moment)
2. Compare it to a regular similarly equipped focus
3. Remove the common pieces ( see what I did? Since they are built on the same frame)
4. Compare the EV battery, inverter, and extras plus electricity generation to the engine, catalytic converter, and transmission
5. Obtain the size/weight of a 20 kwhr lead acid battery bank.
6. Figure out how many deep cycles the battery bank from 5 can handle
7. Divide cycles left on used EV battery by lead acid cycles
8. Either include the LCA for the lead acid battery banks in the regular car LCA or subtract the results from the EV LCA.
9. Exclude human health and benzene equivalents. That's not too useful. i prefer using disability affected life year, thats better because but there's huge problems with those. You never get the full picture, easily skewed, it only counts chemicals, not industrial accidents, as we know oil processing is relatively dangerous, making batteries in a clean room, while using nasty chemicals is not inherently dangerous. Bottom line, very hard number to peg, and i've found no database is good at incorporating everything.
As an analogy, thing weed wacker vs lawnmower, weed wacker looks better from a human health perspective all LCA software, DALY is lower, but realistically, the minute the line breaks/ hits your shin and draws blood the lawnmower has a lower DALY, and maybe you use mercurochrome on your cut. See how it gets complicated real fast when real life situations arise.
10. Get the LCA results for the differences in a regular car and the EV.
11. Get the LCA results for a gallon of gasoline
12. Get the LCA results for a kwhr of energy
13. Plug results into excel and do a goal seek for mileage.
14. Do a sensitivity analysis using the following parameters ( virgin material for both, Virgin for EV/recycled regular, recycled EV vs virgin car, both using all recycled materials)

Does that sound reasonable?

Here's what i would NOT do
1. Set a preconceived mileage, adds little to no value
2. Create theoretical cars and use a computer program when the cars already exist. Computer programs have their place, but should not relied upon if there is data currently and physically available. Rule of thumb, if you can physically weigh it don't use a computer to mimic it.
Would you if doing a paper vs plastic LCA use a computer ( simulate the paper bag weight from dimensions, weight of a piece of computer paper and scale up) for the bag weights or actually go to a food store, obtain them, and weigh them?
3. Used literature in place of calling up the manufacturer of EVs, or looking at the battery suppliers to determine battery chemistry, plenty of literature on whose using whose batteries and what type.
4. Exclude end of life uses
5. Include human health in carcinogenic compound equivalents, meaningless and alarmist in my opinion. If anything use DALY or life years, they incorporate more and while imperfect, give a better picture.
6. Used the best of the best in terms of regular cars for mpg. Not everyone drives super efficient diesels, if anything use the average
7. Use a grid mix, while OK and dirty does not accurately reflect the usage and behavior of EV drivers, but if thats the best you have, you have to use it

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