Are hybrid cars less polluting - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-17-2011, 08:17 PM
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Are hybrid cars less polluting than gasoline cars that have the same load hauling capacity?

To me, it looks like, if you consider the air around the car, then yes, the hybrids put out less pollution as they drive by. This could be helpful when driving within a city. But if you condider the overall pollution involved in making, operating, and disposing, of a car, over a period of 10 years, than the ordinary gasoling car seems to be less polluting. The production of the batteries causes a lot of pollution. As does disposal of the batteries, which have to be replaced once every 5 to 7 years. What happens is that instead of the pollution being put into the air near where the car is driving, it goes to pollute the air near where the batteries are made.

Electric cars seem to be even worse, as not only do they have batteries, but the facility that generates the electricity used to charge the battery, may be polluting the area around that facility.

The cost of owning and operating a hybrid car, for 10 years, does not seem to be less than that of owning operating a gasoling car. The savings in gas don't make up for the increased cost of the car. I'm not sure how expensive gasoling has to get before owning a hybrid car becomes cheaper, but I think it is more than $4.00 per gallon. If I get a chance I'll do the math. Calc the cost of fuel for 15,000 miles over 10 years, for both kinds of cars, and see if the difference is more than the $5000 or $6000 initial outlay for the car. But once you factor in the cost of a new set of batteries after 7 years - the hybrids fare even worse.
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#2 Old 04-17-2011, 08:39 PM
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Yes, I calculated the hybrid has less gas expense, over 10 years, 150,000 miles, with gas at $4.00 per gal.

Sorry I'l have to redo the calc.

Comparing a toyota corolla automatic with a prius automatic, about $6000 difference in initial cost. For mileage, city, highway, combined, Corolla gets 26, 34, 30. Prius gets 51, 48, 49.5. I averaged city and highway to get combined. Yes, the Prius actually get better mpg in city driving than they do in highway driving.

To go 150,000 miles, Corolla uses 5000 gallons, Prius uses 3030 gallons. At $4.00 per gallon, that is $20,000 vs $12,120 gallons. So Prius has $8000 less in gasoline costs. It also weighs a few hundred pounds more, and has slightly more interior space. It might be better to compare a Prius with a Matrix, which is a bit more like a Prius, both outside and inside, and has similar interior space. And has slightly less gas mileage, than a Corolla, due to inferior aerodynamics.

Things don't look as good if you compare a Camry regular with a Camry hybrid, where the mpg specs are city, highway, combined, 22, 32, 27, and 31, 35, 33. Here the hybrid saves only $4,040, over 150,000 miles, yet the initial price of the car is about $5,800 more. Both the hybrid and the regular have 101.4 cu ft passenger space, but the regular has 15.0 cu ft luggage space, and the hybrid has only 10.6 (the batteries have to go somewhere).
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#3 Old 04-17-2011, 08:50 PM
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Don't forget to factor in the pollution of finding, drilling for and pumping crude oil, transporting crude to the world's refineries, refining it until it's gasoline, and hauling the gasoline to distribution centers and retailers. That's a lot of gas and it doesn't begin at the corner store. It pollutes a lot before it ever gets into a car.

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#4 Old 04-17-2011, 08:55 PM
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#5 Old 04-17-2011, 09:10 PM
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When I had a Honda Insight, the batteries were under warranty for 8 years. So that means the manufacturer expects them to last 8 years or more.
The Volt's battery life is supposed to be ten years.
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#6 Old 04-17-2011, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soilman View Post

The production of the batteries causes a lot of pollution. As does disposal of the batteries, which have to be replaced once every 5 to 7 years. What happens is that instead of the pollution being put into the air near where the car is driving, it goes to pollute the air near where the batteries are made.

Aren't the batteries recycled?

What about a cost and pollution comparison with the extra gas used (including collecting, refining, and transporting) for a normal gas automobile to an electric or hybrid?

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#7 Old 04-17-2011, 09:55 PM
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Don't forget to factor in the pollution of finding, drilling for and pumping crude oil, transporting crude to the world's refineries, refining it until it's gasoline, and hauling the gasoline to distribution centers and retailers. That's a lot of gas and it doesn't begin at the corner store. It pollutes a lot before it ever gets into a car.

That's a good point. And it would seem hard to compare the pollution involved in that, with the pollution involved in making batteries. Don't forget that those batteries have to be transported from the factories where they are made, to the car manufacturer's factory, and that all the materials that go into the batteries, have to be transported from where they are mined or manufactured, to the factory where the batteries are made. The comparison gets more and more complicated.
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#8 Old 04-17-2011, 11:07 PM
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That's a good point. And it would seem hard to compare the pollution involved in that, with the pollution involved in making batteries. Don't forget that those batteries have to be transported from the factories where they are made, to the car manufacturer's factory, and that all the materials that go into the batteries, have to be transported from where they are mined or manufactured, to the factory where the batteries are made. The comparison gets more and more complicated.

Car batteries is a brand new technology, far from being fully developed; how efficiently they can be produced in the future may depend on how well they are accepted by the public. For now, a battery has to be manufactured only once, every 10-years, or whatever it is, then hopefully recycled. A gallon of gas has to be re-made, from scratch, every time you use one. How this balances out over the long-run, and whether battery making will become easier in time, I have no idea.

What you said about source electricity is correct. If electric cars are ever to be truly successful, especially ecologically, will depend on finding ways to mass produce electricity cleanly. They say the U.S. has wind, the way Saudi Arabia has oil: there's more wind in the United States, than anywhere else on earth. It's something to think about. But turning wind into electrical power then distributing it across a country as large as this, is a fairly tall order. I tend to think that building a sufficient system and grid would take a national effort, like the Manhattan Project or Project Apollo, to come off. Who knows? Individual automobiles may never be ecologically sound, and we'll be perpetually faced with choosing the lesser of the evils.

If I were buying a car, which I'm not, I would choose a hybrid, just for the sake of being part of the experiment....

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#9 Old 04-17-2011, 11:25 PM
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Actually the nickel metal hydride batteries used in hybrid cars were first developed in 1989. I remember seeing them start to appear in stores that sold AA cells and AAA cells, about 6-7 years ago. Along with poor quality always-on trickle chargers that ruined the batteries unless you remembered to remove the battery after 8-10 hours. Of course, the lead-acid batteries used to start cars and run their electric and electronic devices, have been around ages.

While the nickel metal hydride batteries that have made so-called hybrid cars popular, have been around for maybe 6 or 7 years, hybrid technology itself has been around for maybe 80 years. Probably more. Many so-called "diesel" engines for railroad trains, are really diesel-electric locomotives. That is, the diesel engine turns an electric generator, just like in a hybrid car. In a diesel-electric locomotive, the generator provides electricity which is used to power multiple electric motors which are used to drive the wheels; in a hybrid drive car, the generator provides electricity which is used both to (1) power an electric motor which is used to drive the wheels, and (2) to charge batteries, which is used to power an electric motor, which is used to drive the wheels. In addition, the car's engine can also drive the wheels directly, and the electric motor (or motors) used to turn the wheels, can function as a generator, simultaneously charging the batteries and slowing down the car.

Interestingly, the drive motors on a diesel electric locomototive provide (supplemental) braking action for the locomotive, just as the drive motor on a hybrid car does, however the current generated by these is shunted away as heat, rather than used to charge any batteries.

Of course, each car on a train has its own brakes. And the lead-acid batteries used to start a locomotive's diesal engine (and run the electronics used to control the engine), weigh a total 2,400 pounds. This set of batteries does little more work than just start the engine! And it weighs almost as much as a whole Prius.
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#10 Old 04-17-2011, 11:36 PM
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I don't remember the battery type, but I had one of those chargers, back around 1990, only it was for C-cells. If American auto makers had turned on to batteries back then, instead of making all those SUVs, we might be farther along with the idea by now.

When you consider that gravity and electricity are the two great forces of nature, it's not surprising that electricity should emerge as the most efficient way to overcome gravity.

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#11 Old 04-18-2011, 10:43 AM
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I don't remember the battery type, but I had one of those chargers, back around 1990, only it was for C-cells. If American auto makers had turned on to batteries back then, instead of making all those SUVs, we might be farther along with the idea by now.

When you consider that gravity and electricity are the two great forces of nature, it's not surprising that electricity should emerge as the most efficient way to overcome gravity.

You may have had a charger designed to charge nickel-cadmium batteries. These are said to be harmful to nickel metal hydride batteries. Possibly because the nominal voltage for the ni-cad aa, aaa, c, and d cells, is 1.4 v, and for ni-m-h it is 1.2 volts. Ni-cads were invented in 1899. Ni-m-h became commercially available in 1989.

I still see batteries as having a lot of difficulties. First being their huge weight. One of the several reasons that the Prius gets so much better gas mileage than the similar in volume Matrix, is the fact that the designers did a lot to reduce its weight. Some parts which are steel on the Matrix, were replaced with plastic and aluminum on the Prius. This is one reason the Prius is more expensive. And yet, because of its batteries, it still weighs more than the Matrix. If they had made the Matrix with these plastic and aluminim parts, they could have squeezed about 3 more mpg out of it, giving it 29 and 35, instead of 26 and 32. Even more if they improved its aerodynamics.
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#12 Old 08-16-2011, 01:05 AM
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depends where you get your electricity from
if it's from burning fossil fuels, then there is no benefit
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#13 Old 08-16-2011, 06:13 AM
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depends where you get your electricity from
if it's from burning fossil fuels, then there is no benefit

I'd say shifting emissions from the middle of the city to somewhere out in the boonies is of benefit. Car fumes aren't much fun to breathe

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#14 Old 08-16-2011, 06:39 AM
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Buy an electric bike instead. Then you can at least make some of your journeys in a less polluting fashion.
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#15 Old 08-16-2011, 08:52 AM
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Buy an electric bike instead. Then you can at least make some of your journeys in a less polluting fashion.

Even a gasoline powered moped, weighing in at about 60 pounds, is way less polluting than a 2,800 pound car (about the lightest car being made today. Although for 5 people you need 5 mopeds. and they can't carry much in the way of luggage, shopping bags, etc. 5 mopeds are still way less polluting than a single car. But if you are talking about 5 motorcycles pulling trailers with luggage in them - you are probably almost as polluting as a single car. Interestingly, a 1982 honda accord weighed about 2,200 pounds, a 2011 weighs over 3000, and a 2011 civic weighs about 2,800, more than a 1982 Accord. A 2011 honda fit weighs about 2,500 - still more than a 1982 accord. Yet its external and internal dimensions are smaller. What is all that extra weight for? How much can air bags weigh? Airbags certainly don't seem to be anywhere near as good at reducing injuries as the much cheaper, and I would think lighter-weight, seatbelts (shoulder-lap combo)
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#16 Old 08-16-2011, 08:56 AM
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What I'd like to see are pedal bikes that, when you roll downhill, allow you to continue pedalling, and storing the energy - so you don't have to pedal as hard when you go uphill. If someone could do this with a simple hydraulic fluid storage device - that would be super.

Of course, all these wheeled devices tend to require costly paved roads, esp if you want better efficiency. These themselves require lots of energy to build. A device that flys at a low altitude over dirt roads with rocks and puddles and tree limbs, and giant potholes, and easily and safely lands by falling 2 or 3 feet - that wouldn't require such roads, and might be more efficient. I'm not talking about a hovercraft, but a low-altitude airplane.
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#17 Old 08-18-2011, 01:52 PM
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Buy an electric bike instead. Then you can at least make some of your journeys in a less polluting fashion.

Not much good for couples or families.

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