Thursday, September 18, 2008

Save the environment with a plug in hybrid?

Nope. I just compared the carbon dioxide for charging a battery up to 16kW-H, and that for burning 1.3 gallons of gasoline.

Gasoline: about 12kG of carbon dioxide produced, low sulfur.

Plug in hybrid: about 15kG of carbon dioxide from burning high sulfur coal.

This doesn't count the environmental cost of finding, mining, and refining the lithium for the batteries, by the way. Nickel is also not the world's cleanest battery material--it's naturally found in combination with sulfur, which must be removed unless one really desires the area to be bathed in sulfuric acid. (see Brantford, Ontario for examples)


pentamom said...

Okay, chalk me up as an ignoramus, but how do you produce 12kg of CO2 by burning just a handful of kg of gasoline? Off the top of my head, I know that the mass of a gallon of water is under 4kg, and that gasoline is a lot lighter, and so is air or anything else that would combine with it in combustion. Help!

Bike Bubba said...

Easy; it's mostly carbon (about 93% if I remember), and you combine two oxygen atoms (atomic weight 16) with one carbon atom (atomic weight 12) to form carbon dioxide, atomix weight 44. So each 12 grams of carbon (each 13-14 grams of gasoline) produces 44 grams of carbon dioxide.

Same basic principle with coal, which is about half carbon.