How an electric car works
Electric cars use lithium-ion batteries, this metal stores a very large amount of energy, it is a multitude of batteries connected in series, when the car is switched on, the ions stored in each battery shake and pass from the billet to the cathode, which helps to power the engine. Today, all-electric cars can be bought with the battery and without renting.
The Kia Niro reaches 485 km, the Hyundai Kona reaches 482 km of autonomy, the Tesla Model 3 reaches 500 km, in the city this autonomy increases to about 600 km, because the battery is recharged during braking and with the engine brake.
Are the batteries recyclable?
At the end of their second life, these batteries are then recycled and the lithium, cobalt and other materials are extracted. The European Union, since 2011, requires the recycling of 50% of the weight of an electric battery, but the extraction of new materials is cheaper than recycling.
It will, therefore, be necessary to reduce the cost of recycling in order to favor it over-extraction, if we want to reduce the pollution that comes out of it.
Are the materials rare?
Lithium is the 33rd most abundant element on earth, so lithium is in the earth’s crust, and this is where it’s mined, but it’s also found in very large quantities even in the oceans, we just don’t know how to mine it in the oceans yet.
Finally the Rare Earths, often mentioned were discovered several decades ago, they are not land and metals, and they are not rare as its name suggests, moreover, the new batteries of electric cars, do not even contain these metals, they can be found in some electric motors, such as permanent magnet motors.
For other materials, the ADEME concluded that the depletion of resources and far, but not infinite, recycling is therefore very important.
The batteries are polluting?
Specifically, the manufacture of batteries causes a lot of pollution. It is a fact, and this is the big issue with the electric car, it is true that an electric vehicle has already emitted greenhouse gases before it has even driven its first kilometer, for the rest of its life cycle the electric car is as clean as the way it produces the electricity that will drive it, and this is the whole subject of the electric car.
0 CO2 emissions, the idea is attractive, goodbye pollution in the city, no more emissions, you can even run your car in your garage without risk of suffocation, but remember that electricity does not come out of the wall, it must be produced, an electric car is as clean as the way to produce this electricity.
In Germany, coal-fired power stations represent 40% of the electricity production, and emit a lot of CO2, in France the share of nuclear power is important, and nuclear power emits very little CO2, of course, it is a controversial subject and renewable energy is preferable, what we must remember is that the ADEME study indicates that, in the worst scenario, that is to say with electricity produced at 40% by coal-fired power stations, an electric car remains 20% cleaner of CO2 than a thermal car.
In the best scenario, in France, with a more decarbonized electricity, it emits up to 80% less Co2 but beware in china, the rise of the electric car to increase the Co2 emissions in the country, why, because china uses in very large quantities coal-fired power plants to produce its electricity, fortunately, China has also begun its energy transition, it has begun to close several coal-fired power plants and prefers renewable.
The future of electric vehicles now depends on a real deployment of renewable and decarbonized energies, to give it its full meaning, and to reach the 80% reduction of greenhouse gases worldwide.
Already cleaner than an internal combustion car in Europe, this car will be even cleaner, if the electricity it’s brought to the world is greener.
The electric car, therefore, makes sense in the current approach to the energy transition, because it can make very efficient use of clean energy.
Electricity is not the solution but a solution, tomorrow’s mobility needs to be rethought, 90% of a car’s lifetime is spent in a car park, we need to optimize the technologies we have at the moment.
Public transport, autonomous cars, and robotic taxis also have their role to play, so we must learn to make better use of our technologies.
On the battery side, research is very active and many avenues are being explored, including the 5R battery, the solid-state battery, or the ionic battery.