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Range extenders: Solar panels provide more juice to EVs

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By Taimaz SZIRNIKS

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Noice!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I’ll have one for sure…

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

With its sleek, aerodynamic line and motors integrated into the wheels, the Lightyear 0 consumes less energy than electric SUVs.

Wait, what? Why is its consumption being compared to an SUV??? Of course it consumes less power than an SUV, it's smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sustainable cars, within a couple of decades, is now feasible, İ suppose?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That's awesome! 10 years ago, we rarely saw hybrids or electric cars and now they are all over the place. Hopefully in 10 years, we'll see solar hybrids all over and cars will use less than half of the gas needed today

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The production of electric car batteries requires metals like lithium. Extracting lithium levels mountains and forests. Electric cars also gets its power from coal power plants increasing the demand for electricity. Power stations are also limited along the expressways so you really can’t travel for long distances. So, these cars really produce more CO2 than gasoline. By the way, CO2 makes the earth lusher and green.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

A Tesla 3 Long Range uses a 1,060-pound battery that contains 25 pounds of lithium, 60 pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside the battery are something like 6,831 individual lithium-ion cells.

 Looking upstream at the ore grades, it's estimated that the typical quantity of rock that must be extracted from the earth and processed to yield the pure minerals needed to make that single battery is:

 • Lithium brines typically contain less than 0.1% lithium, so that requires some 25,000 pounds of brines to get the 25 pounds of pure lithium.

 • Cobalt ore grades average about 0.1%, thus nearly 30,000 pounds of ore.

 • Nickel ore grades average about 1%, thus about 6,000 pounds of ore.

• Graphite ore is typically 10%, thus about 1,000 pounds per battery.

 • Copper at about 0.6% in the ore, thus about 25,000 pounds of ore per battery.

So in total, acquiring just these five elements to produce the 1,000-pound EV battery requires mining about 90,000 pounds of ore. To properly account for all of the "earth" moved though, which is relevant to the overall environmental footprint, and mining equipment energy use - we need to estimate the materials first dug up to get to the ore (overburden). Depending on ore type and location, overburden ranges from about 3 to 20 tons of earth removed to access each ton of ore.

This means that accessing about 90,000 pounds of ore requires digging and hauling between 200,000 and over 1,500,000 pounds of earth an average of more than 500,000 pounds per battery. The precise number will vary for different battery chemistry formulations, and because different areas have variable grades of ores. Note that this total footprint doesn't take into account the large quantities of materials and chemicals used to process and refine all those ores. The other materials used when compared with an ICE car, such as replacing steel with aluminum to offset the weight of the battery, or the supply chain for rare earth elements used in electric motors (neodymium, dysprosium) have not been counted. Also excluded is the related, but non-battery, electrical systems in an EV that use some 300% more overall copper compared to an ICE car.

If recovering minerals hidden in worn-out products such as EV batteries were easier, cheaper, and safer than mining new materials, there would more of it, and it would not need subsidies and mandates to put into effect. While technology, especially automation and robotics, will eventually bring more economically viable (and cleaner) ways to recycle, the challenges are many and progress has been slow. That’s why overall global levels of net recycling of most metals (not just e-waste and green waste) are below 20%, and much lower than those for the rare earths.

The challenge with recycling is the same as in mining itself: a lot depends on concentrations. The concentration of useful minerals in e-waste is very low and often lower than the ore grades of those minerals in rocks. In addition, the physical nature of discarded hardware is highly varied (again, unlike rocks), making it difficult to find simple ways to separate out the minerals. Recycling processes are often labor-intensive (thus the pursuit of cheap labor, sometimes child labor) and hazardous because the techniques to strip away unwanted packaging sometimes releases toxic fumes and other waste.

These realities indicate that the efforts expended to recycle minerals can be greater than to get it from nature’s ore.

EV's are not all unicorns and rainbows.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Tom San

Nice cut and paste, pity you didn't credit the authors.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Nice cut and paste, pity you didn't credit the authors.

My bad.

The Manhattan Institute.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There is hope in the form of *perovskites which will allow planes and trucks to become dependent on the sun for power-check it out.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

another step to nowhere...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I am a huge fan of EV's with solar panels/skin to provide free charge for the life of the vehicle. They should all have that feature. Absolutely no reason for them not to have solar included. They should be doing the same with all new houses and buildings being constructed. It all adds up to less demand from the grid and that is good for everyone.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

About 20 years ago the calculus for putting solar panels on EVs was that they would yield only about 1 mile per day to the range. What the article describes is much better, a tribute to engineering.

I talked to a man who worked as a mechanic for Railway Express in Manhattan after World War II. The gasoline engines were so dirty back then that the city mandated that delivery vehicles had to run on batteries in Manhattan. Railway Express had over 2,000 vehicles running exclusively on lead-acid batteries. So, while electric vehicles have gotten much more efficient, they are not exactly new.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The comment that EVs are charged up from coal powered plants is not entirely accurate. While it is mostly true for China, here in California less than 1% of our electricity comes from burning coal.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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