Zero-Emission Cars Are Not the Total Answer

zero emission cars

zero emission cars

Zero emission cars have long been a goal of the environmental movement. They are now on the market. Several auto companies have battery -powered cars for sale. There are also hybrid cars that are a combination of a battery-powered electric motor and a conventional gasoline engine. The gas engine powers the car when the battery is discharged.

The all-electric models are excellent for short commutes, but the hybrid is capable of much longer trips. The batteries of both can be charged from the home electrical system at night.

All-electric cars are technically zero-emission cars, but they actually transfer the emissions to a different location. To charge the car battery, the electrical power plant emits more pollution to generate the electricity. This can be beneficial by reducing air pollution in population centers while increasing pollution at the power plant, which is likely in a less populated area.

According to a chart on Treehugger.com, electricity produced by coal causes more air pollution than is saved by using all-electric cars. Using electricity from nuclear and renewable power sources like hydro-electric, wind, solar and geothermal results in a net reduction of pollution. Therefore, the source of power is critical.

Technically, a fuel-cell vehicle is not zero emission. It emits water as a product of the hydrogen and oxygen reaction that creates the electricity that powers the car. Since water cannot be considered pollution, the fuel-cell car can also be called a zero-emissions vehicle. Most hydrogen is produced from natural gas, using high temperature steam. Like battery-powered cars, the question is the pollution equation between the fuel-cell car and the pollution produced in the production of hydrogen. There is also the issue of safety. A hydrogen explosion doomed the German airship, “Hindenburg.” There are safety questions involved in a car carrying a hydrogen tank and in the distribution system and fueling stations.

Japan must feel these problems can be solved. The Honda Company has a working fuel-cell car. It is awaiting a nationwide fuel delivery system. The Honda company has announced that, “In January 2011 in Japan, 13 companies, including Honda, other automakers and hydrogen supply companies, announced their plan to work together to realize the wide-scale introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles and necessary hydrogen infrastructure in Japan in 2015.”

The Chinese experimental vehicle named YeZ provides a glimpse into the future. It is built by the General Motors partner SAIC. The car is a negative-carbon-emissions vehicle. It is powered by solar panels mounted on the roof. Small windmill generators, one on each wheel, add power to the battery. The composite materials in the frame actually add oxygen to the atmosphere.

Don’t place your order, for the expected delivery time is at least 20 years.

Sources:

“China Designs a Negative-Emissions Vehicle”/Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2010/06/09/china-designs-negative-emissions-vehicle/

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
http://world.honda.com/FuelCell/

Michael Graham Richard/”Plug-in Hybrid Cars: Chart of CO2 Emissions Ranked by Power Source”/Treehugger.com
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/plug-in-hybrid-cars-co2-emissions-electricity-energy.php

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