What Sustainability Issues Will Arise from the Large Scale Adoption of Electric Cars?

Topics: Electric vehicle, Internal combustion engine, Electric car Pages: 8 (2948 words) Published: March 23, 2013
What sustainability issues will arise from the large scale adoption of electric cars? With the recent introduction of the electric car into Ireland, I am going to outline some of the sustainability issues that will arise from their large scale adoption. The car has already received backing by the government who have recently announced their plans for the induction and eventual change over to electrically powered vehicles. What is an Electric Car?

An electric car, is a vehicle which like the typical cars seen throughout the world, has four wheels, doors, windows and a roof. The difference between the typical common car and the electric car, comes when you look at the power source, in the common car an Internal Combustion Engine is used to convert fuel (generally unsustainable fossil fuels like diesel or petrol) to mechanical energy, the Electric Car uses electric motors powered by batteries or an onboard fuel cell.

The common car with its Internal Combustion Engine has advantages and disadvantages; the cost to purchase a car with an internal combustion engine compared to an electric car is lower, as there is the ability to mass produce a product which is still in huge demand. In today’s world oil derived fuel is accessible and relatively cheap to the consumer, as the infrastructure is already set up to enable the simple and quick refuelling of the car. The negative side to the common car is the fuel which it used, all of the fuels for Internal Combustion engines are derived from oil. The worldwide production of oil has peaked and oil production is now dwindling, this is not easily seen by the consumer purchasing the fuel who might be oblivious to the fact. With an increasing demand for oil and an ever decreasing supply it is becoming more and more difficult and expensive to produce oil which is useable, oil is now so valuable that there are wars over supplies. Another negative side to the Internal Combustion engine is its inability to convert the energy from the fuel into usable mechanical energy, during the combustion process the fuel is converted to useable mechanical energy but there is also heat and noise energy given off, this is an unwanted waste of fuel. The issue of harmful gas emissions when the oil fuel is burned is another major downfall with the Internal Combustion engine, as when the fuel is combusted it releases carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide as well as hydro carbons and ozone. Some of these gases are toxic and harmful to humans but the big issue is with the carbon dioxide emissions, as it contributes to global warming or “the duvet effect” which is an ongoing problem throughout the world. Transport powered by fossil fuels is responsible for 20% of Carbon Dioxide emissions worldwide. It is the sustainability issues of the common car’s Internal Combustion engine which sparked the need for the development of a new way to travel, the electric car which has come out on the top of the list for new more sustainable transport methods.

Different types of Electric cars
An electric car is a vehicle that is powered by simple electric motors, how the electricity to run the motor is created or stored can vary. The most common type of electric car is one which has a large or a number of smaller batteries which stores electricity from an external power supply, generally the mains electricity grid. The other more sustainable type of electric car is one with an onboard power station, capable of producing its own electricity. A hydrogen fuel cell uses hydrogen to produce electricity through the process of electrolysis, the combination of hydrogen and oxygen creates an electric current and gives off a by-product of water. As hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth, there is a sustainable supply of fuel, the only problem with hydrogen is the difficulty faced when harnessing and storing the fuel. Hydrogen generally comes bonded to other elements; this chemical bond is difficult to break, after harnessing the...
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