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ELECTRIC CARS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Diesel scandal, emissions scandal, particulate matter emissions – the good reputation of classic petrol and diesel cars has been significantly damaged in recent months by a number of scandals and studies. Electric cars, on the other hand, are experiencing an ever-increasing boom as an environmentally friendly alternative.

But are they really so gentle on the environment? We took a closer look at the life cycle assessment of electric cars and checked whether, from an ecological point of view, it was really worthwhile to invest in electronically operated vehicles.

ARE ELECTRIC CARS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?

Electric cars are often cited as a solution to the climate problems caused by car traffic. Politicians also see the increasing integration of electric cars into road transport as an opportunity to reduce CO2emissions and particulate matter pollution. About ten years ago, the Chancellor called for one million electric cars to roll on German roads by 2020. However, Merkel has now had to revise this quite ambitious government target, since the share of electric cars in Germany, despite the premium, is currently only at a low 0.7 percent. The implementation of the planned project therefore seems extremely unrealistic.

Nevertheless, there are good reasons why more and more motorists are choosing to buy an electric car. The reputation that precedes this is usually decisive for sales: while diesel cars count as the biggest polluters in road traffic, electric cars powered by car electricity from an ecological origin are regarded as a clean and, above all, environmentally friendly alternative. But is the positive image of electric vehicles really justified? Are they really more environmentally friendly than vehicles with classic internal combustion engines? In order to be able to make statements about the life cycle balance of an electric car, several factors must be taken into account, such as production and electricity supply.

CONSUMPTION AND RANGE OF ELECTRIC CARS

Larger and heavier vehicles tend to have higher power consumption, of course. The differences between the individual electric models in terms of range and consumption are still very large at the moment. The highest range does not necessarily have the energy-efficient vehicle at the moment, but is mainly achieved by large battery capacities. This is why the Tesla models with a range of 451 kilometers differ best compared to the competition, according to the ADAC Ecotest. The ranges determined by ADAC vary between 112 and 451 kilometers for the different models. The vehicles consume between 14.7 kWh and 28.1 kWh per 100 kilometers.

 

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THE ECO-BALANCE OF ELECTRIC CARS

Studies relating to the environmental performance of electric cars have come to contradictory results in terms of the life cycle assessment. The entire life path, from production to useful life to disposal, was included in the analyses. A study by the German Federal Environment Agency for Humans and the Environment finds that electric cars perform better in their life cycle assessment than cars with internal combustion engines. A similar study carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management in Austria comes to a similar conclusion. Here, too, the life cycle was better when looking at the entire life cycle of electric cars compared to cars with internal combustion engines.

According to a study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg, electric cars have a similar climate balance to cars with internal combustion engines, as they require significantly more energy in their production: In the production of their highly complex accumulators, tons of greenhouse gases are produced, which are released and thus pose a great burden on our planet – comparable to the pollutants that a conventional combustion engine emits in traffic within eight years. This was the conclusion of researchers from Sweden who found a negative climate balance in terms of production based on a meta-study published in 2017.

LITHIUM BATTERIES IN ELECTRIC CARS

The batteries for electric cars are extremely worrying for several reasons. In addition to the water-intensive extraction of lithium, the raw material cobalt is also used in their production. This resource, too, is only available to a limited extent, so its extraction is extremely expensive – at the expense of nature. Many of the raw materials also come from China or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the promotion not only violates human rights, but also the environment is increasingly destroyed by the pollution of rivers and soils.

Another problem you need to consider when you’re playing with the idea of getting an electric car is the question of where to go with the battery? Lithium cannot be recycled yet. While many scientists and experts are working on a way to reuse the batteries of electric cars, research has not yet gone that far. In the future, therefore, a number of changes will have to be made in battery technology in order to implement an environmentally friendly recycling process.

Effects Of Nuclear Energy In The Environment

Electricity can be generated from uranium: nuclear energy. In addition, 10 to 100 times less net CO2 is released than with energy generation from fossil fuels. That is about the same as with electricity production from wind, water, and sun. But opinions about nuclear energy differ greatly.

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Proponents regard nuclear energy as safe, sustainable, and necessary to combat climate change. Opponents consider the technology not necessary and fundamentally unsafe: because of the radioactive waste and the risk of serious accidents, such as in Fukushima after the Japan earthquake.

Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy

Benefits

  • Virtually no CO2 and other greenhouse gases are released during the generation of nuclear energy.
  • Uranium is relatively cheap as a raw material.
  • For nuclear energy, we are less dependent on politically unstable regions than on the use of oil and gas.
  • Uranium is found all over the world in rocks, soil, and seawater.

Cons

  • The biggest disadvantage of nuclear energy is the radioactive waste from a plant, but the waste from uranium mining and the demolition waste after the closure of a nuclear plant is also radioactive. Radioactive radiation is a major health risk. Highly active radioactive waste continues to emit radiation for tens of thousands of years, posing a risk to thousands of generations after ours. There is currently no good definitive storage for this.
  • The chance of a serious accident is small, but the possible consequences are great. This mainly concerns long-term adverse effects due to increased radiation levels.
  • The construction of a nuclear power plant is very expensive (billions of euros), as is demolition (dismantling).
  • Nuclear power plants and factories handling nuclear waste pose a risk of misuse. They can be made suitable for the production of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear energy in the Netherlands
About six percent of the electricity we use in the Netherlands is generated by a nuclear power plant (2014 figures). The only working nuclear power plant in the Netherlands is located in Borssele (Zeeland). In addition, the Netherlands also imports electricity (including from France, Belgium, and Germany) that is partly generated with nuclear energy. In the Netherlands, research with nuclear energy is also taking place at six locations (nuclear research). The best-known research center is at ECN in Petten.

What is Nuclear Energy?
Nuclear energy is the energy released by splitting atomic nuclei of the ore uranium. Uranium has a heavy, unstable atomic nucleus and divides itself into two or lighter nuclei during nuclear fission. During this fission, a large amount of energy is released, which triggers other uranium atoms to fission nuclear again. That is called a chain reaction. In a nuclear reactor, a nuclear power plant keeps this chain reaction under control. In a nuclear power plant, tens of thousands of so-called uranium oxide fuel rods lie in a reactor bath filled with water. Nuclear fission takes place in the rods, while water flows past. The energy released during nuclear fission is heat. The water absorbs that heat, reaches a temperature of hundreds of degrees Celsius and then turns into steam. This steam drives turbines that generate electricity.

The stock of uranium
Uranium is not renewable, so gone = gone, but the stock is large. The supply of cheaply extracted uranium is sufficient to produce (with the latest generation of nuclear reactors) the same amount of electricity every year for about 100 years as is currently being used worldwide.

Radioactivity and health
If a living creature receives radioactive radiation, it can cause serious health problems. Radioactivity increases the risk of leukemia (blood cancer), hereditary conditions, and abnormalities in babies exposed to radiation in the womb. High-level waste continues to emit radiation for tens of thousands of years, posing a responsibility and risk to thousands of generations after ours.

Future of nuclear energy

Fourth-generation power stations
Today’s nuclear power plants belong to the ‘third generation’ power plants. Research is being conducted worldwide into a ‘fourth generation’. In doing so, essentially new concepts would increase reactor safety and reduce the quantity and life of radioactive waste. For example, the so-called transmutation of radioactive waste would convert long-lived radioactive material into short-lived material. The development of this technique will probably take decades to come.

Nuclear fusion
In addition to nuclear fission, there is another technique that could potentially generate energy in the future by changing the nucleus of atoms: nuclear fusion. The chemical reactions in the sun are the best-known example of nuclear fusion. During nuclear fusion, the nuclei of two substances (deuterium and tritium) fuse together. This creates helium (another substance), a nuclear particle (neutron), and a lot of energy. The raw material deuterium is widely available. Tritium is made in the plant.

Tips for Eco-Friendly Sewing

There’s a broad and enduring pleasure in sewing something. Whether you’re creating a skirt or hand sewing an embroidery, when you complete a project, you have something that you executed with your own two hands.

All the sewing using sewingmachinebuffs.com we’re making can have a meaningful influence on the environment. Whether you’re a passionate sewer or a weekend dabbler, below are some basic ways to make your pieces a bit more environmental-friendly.

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Typically grown cotton is one of the various polluting products, and it occupies an excessive number of pesticides and insecticides. In India, known to one-third of all cotton farmers, cotton holds just 5 percent of farmland, but cotton-growing values for 54 percent of all pesticides utilized each year, as per the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Accumulate and Reuse Fragments

The majority of sewing designs provide a fair number of available scraps, and for a long time, those fragments were assigned to the trash. But several sewers are developing awareness of excess they generated and they’re searching for methods to use their scraps, or at least keep them from the garbage trash.

A few basic ways you can use your pieces are to cut them into tiny pieces so they can be utilized as filler in tiny packed toys, decorations and even pillows.

Use Upcycled Resources

Next time you require a brand new material, sacrifice a journey to the fabric shop and go to your neighborhood thrift store to get some excellent, economical fabrics. From velvet suits from the ’80s to floral decorations to important cotton shirts, you can see all kinds of clothing at thrift stores. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for clothing that features cool vintage buttons—a $5 shirt is a steal if it comes with buttons that will make your next sewing project pop.

Simply by choosing organic fabrics, reducing waste, and making the most of no-longer-loved clothing, you can indulge your love of sewing and reduce your environmental footprint. Talk about a win-win.

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