Wednesday, November 6, 2013
How Green are Electric Car Batteries?
The electric car is increasingly popular on our roads and thanks to greater efficiency, a more main stream adoption of the autos and also better quality cars. Even with the fossil fuelled alternative becoming more efficient in recent years, the electric car is still pushing itself up the car ranks each and every year.
Of course, the main power source of such a car is the lithium battery and it’s improvements in these areas that have really and truly helped these cars become more popular. Ranges have increased dramatically, as have lifespans and the weight of the batteries. However, one has to ask how green are these car batteries really? We want to know how green the Nissan Leaf we offer at frontierleasing.co.uk is and so let’s take a look.
Lithium is a natural resource and unlike many others used in manufacturing is very easy to get to and doesn’t require destruction of the earth. There’s no need for strip mining or dynamite in the creation of lithium. Most lithium on earth is located in South America in the Andes, though there are smaller amounts also located around the world elsewhere too, though the South American version is easier to extract.
Most lithium is found in underground ponds and is easily extracted from the lake. The lakes are generally pumped and then the lithium is what remains on the bottom. This results in it being left to dry in the sun and soon the muddy gloop becomes lithium carbonate. This can then be sent for processing, which is also clean and easy to do. Most of the harmful materials in lithium batteries are in fact copper and aluminium and their extraction.
The other main source of pollution for these devices is the transport of the materials. This transport uses fossil fuel powered vehicles to move from A-B and this causes issues.
The battery is then assembled at the plant and then placed in the car, which will then produce no emissions.
Charge and Charge Holding
A lithium battery will hold up to 80 per cent of a charge after a decade, which is still quite good considering the age of the technology. When the charge runs below this rate the battery can still be used however. Many of these batteries are then sent to wind farms, where they are used to store power that’s created from a grid. Eventually, however they do outstay their lifespan and need to be recycled.
A large part of a lithium car battery can be recycled and most of the useful bits are reused. For instance electric car manufacturer Tesla will use the fluids from the battery for cooling. They also use the wires and batteries again too. All the other remaining pieces are recycled and separated into individual metals to be used again elsewhere.
Lithium batteries main issue is the lack of recycling plants, however because these batteries are only currently coming to market, in time they should pop up in abundance as there is a need for them and money to be made.
So, as you can see the lithium battery is quite a practical form of power for a car and a quite green one too.
Derek Devlin is a lover of cars and autos and has written for a variety of auto sites in his time. He loves electric cars and is very fond of Tesla’s movements.