Electric? yes, but at the right time

THE CLASSIC HAS A FUTURE – was held at the Polytechnic university of Milan the conference “Mobility: technology and emissions”. Among the many speakers, lecturers of the department of energy of the university and experts of the Italian subsidiaries of Bosch, Mazda and Toyota (for the second house, also spoke to the engineer Mitsuo Hitomi, in charge of the innovation of the japanese manufacturer). The data, were compared to the electric cars and those with traditional engines. Result: it seems that even from the point of view of emissions, as well as the costs and practicality of use, there is currently a technology in the absolute best of the other. The road to the electrification is decisive, but the more positive results you will get, if at least for a few decades it will be possible to choose models with gasoline, diesel, and hybrids.

ZERO EMISSIONS? Let’s TALK about it – Emblematic was the presentation of professor Giovanni Lozza, who has highlighted how many observers foresee, to 2030, that the 30-40% of new cars will be electric. A figure that seems little justifiable, because in the meantime there are significant technological challenges to be faced, and it is said that to focus only on the drive current is advantageous from the environmental point of view. First of all, he pointed out Lozza, it is not right to call them always “zero emissions”: it is true that they do not have an exhaust pipe, but less than take advantage of exclusively renewable resources (solar, wind, hydro), to produce the current in the central one involves the use of fuels and therefore the emission of a certain amount of CO2 (the gas responsible for the warming of the planet), and, albeit to a small extent in and away from urban areas, pollutants such as particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, and so on). It should then be taken into account in the emission of carbon dioxide during the production of the car (the batteries are very impressive from this point of view, with an average of 120 kg of CO2 that enters the atmosphere for each kWh of capacity).

GO to a COUNTRY… – The advantage in the use of an electric car, then, depends both on the capacity of the battery (the current trend of the use of the maxi-batteries to increase the autonomy is so harmful to the environment) both from how it is manufactured, the current used to charge the battery. “Considering as a reference a mileage of 150,000 km and the crossover Hyundai Kona (photo above), a choice is proposed to gasoline, diesel, hybrid and electric – has clarified Lozza – this latest version comes out clearly winning in a country like Norway, where practically all the electrical energy is obtained for zero emissions: about 50 g/km emitted, on average, in the life cycle of the car are less than one-half of the 120 calculated by using realistic, for the hybrid model. The situation is however different in Italy, where the contribution of renewable sources to produce electricity is much lower and, therefore, leads to an average emission for the electric version of 125 g/km, a little worse than that of the hybrid. Germany, then, we are to 150, a value that coincides with that of the diesel version, and in China to 180, worst of the petrol version, which stops 165.

There IS MUCH TO DO – it’s Not even true that we can switch quickly to a “clean” production of electricity: put in the pipeline, and achieve, power plants, less impact requires many years. Also here, Lozza showed data according to which in the world, it is expected that in 2040 it will demand a lot more electricity than today. And if the hypothesis “median” (half-way between those more optimistic and those pessimistic), speak about 19,000 TWh produced from renewable sources instead of the 8,000 we have today, it is also true that it will grow, the contribution of natural gas plants (from 6.200 TWh, with 9,500) and coal (from 9,800 to 10,800). The diffusion of the electric vehicle, therefore, entails the need to create appropriate infrastructure. Which is not easy: taking into account the greater time required for the charging with respect to the supply, a motorway service station (which now has a dozen fuel pumps) should have more than 60 columns for fast charging. That is, an installed power of 6 MW, the equivalent of the amount of an industry to 1,000 employees. In the same way, to mount in the garage of the condominiums of the charging devices fairly quick, it would be necessary to triple the power and the sizing of the system. In short, according to Lozza, the best solution (from an economic point of view, but also of the environment) requires a non-ideological approach, with a complementary use of the different available technologies, considering a continuous relationship between costs and benefits (assuming there are any).

THE CHOICE IS NOT ONLY a TECHNICAL – political level should be also taking into account the dimensions of the problem: as pointed out by Daniel Bonalumi, always of the department of Energy of the Polytechnic, the cars that circulate in Europe contribute only 0.8 % to the global emissions of CO2, yet they are subject to norms very stringent: we should remember that in 2021, for all the manufacturers, there is a limit of 95 g/km exhaust emissions as an average for new vehicles sold; who sforerà will have to pay the “fines” significant. This is one of the reasons that the houses rely heavily on the sale of electric cars or plug-in hybrid, which has emissions declared carbon dioxide (in the exhaust, let us remember once again, and not for the whole life cycle) zero or very low, and thereby help re-set limit. For professor Angelo Onorati, it should be a strategy that “does not put to notice of the types of engines, but spurs on a reduction of actual emissions, which can be achieved in many ways.” Existing vehicles, diesel and gasoline Euro 6d, with homologation tests carried out on the road too, and not only in the laboratory (procedure for entry into force after the scandal dieselgate) release quantities of pollutants, very small. From this point of view, precise Honoured, “we’re going to the motors at zero impact”.

FUELS “BIO” TO REDUCE The CARBON DIOXIDE – according to professor Honored for reducing CO2 emissions, (which, remember, is not harmful to human health but is a greenhouse gas, a solution can come from the use of synthetic fuels and organic (derived from plant sources. Words almost identical arrive by the engineer Mitsuo Hitomi Mazda motor corporation (in the photo above), the house that has just launched some models with the new engine SkyActiv-X (to gasoline, but with a cycle of operation similar to that of diesel) is a crossover power, the Mazda MX-30 (in the photo above). “According to our approach, faithful to the goal of proposing the technical solution at the right time and in the right place, until the increasing amount of energy coming from renewable sources will not replace the electricity produced by sources that are most harmful, the electric propulsion can be considered satisfactory in reducing drastically the emissions of greenhouse gases. In fact, considering that currently in the world, two-thirds of the electricity is produced using fossil fuels, the norms according to which the emission of an electric vehicle are equal to zero are not relevant to reality. To correctly measure the CO2, we do not consider the present estimate tank-to-wheel, from the tank to the wheel, that only consider the emissions during the use, but rather those well-to-wheel, which also includes the extraction, production and transport of fuel, and includes the life cycle of the battery, with the account of the CO2 emissions from their production to their disposal.” According to the engineer of the Mazda, in addition to alternative fuels, like compressed natural gas and hydrogen (the latter, used in vehicles with a fuel cell, and the speakers provide a dissemination especially in the field of heavy vehicles, ed.), the automotive industry is researching feasibility on liquid fuels recyclable such as bio-fuels obtained from the development of the microalgae. In this sense, it will be important for the development of the latter to achieve the elimination of particulates on the cars driven by the internal combustion engine. Finally, she ends up Hitomi, “the whole industry of the production of electricity and batteries, and automotive industries should contribute to reduce the CO2 emissions in each field”. There is, therefore, to be hoped that the world adopt an approach of global optimization of the resources and technologies available, with the only real objective of protecting the environment.