Last night a good friend asked me why I had decided to build an electric car. When I told her that I believed electric vehicles (EVs) might play a valuable role in a carbon neutral future she pointed out several facts that are very important to address.
EVs and more specifically their batteries have some drawbacks. Lithium, manganese, nickel, cobalt and aluminum oxide are just some of the chemicals that may be found in EVs today. Lithium in particular is not plentiful in the US, which puts us in another foreign dependency position. By supporting EVs and consequently the lithium battery, are we supporting the development of lithium empires in Bolivia and Chile?
The use of these chemicals carries hidden costs beyond the obvious environmental degradation from mining. Electronic waste disposal processes are not up to speed or the ones that are cost too much. Inevitably, a lot of e-waste ends up in the wrong spots. Luckily, we have moved away from using toxic chemicals like cadmium and mercury in our batteries and lithium batteries in particular are pretty environmentally benign.
These are important points that I will continue to research and ones that have thousands of people searching for solutions. I don’t have the answers to solve these developing problems but I do have faith that they can be solved. Despite the drawbacks, I still support electric vehicles. Why?
I believe that EVs and battery technologies are in their infancy. I think that new battery chemistries will be discovered soon that could mitigate environmental impacts. I know that electrical generation in the US is shifting away from fossil fuels and that solar panels are seeing developments that could make them viable as a leader in localized power generation.
I am optimistic about the future of EVs. I might be wrong but I think they have a lot of potential.
Credit where credit is due: The picture is from [http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-100-HP-Motor-Controller-for-an-Electric-C/] a step by step instructional post on how to create an electric speed control. Thank you Paul. His website can be found at http://www.paulandsabrinasevstuff.com