How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?



Posted by Ed 43 days ago

LePan shows how plastics, made from fossil fuels, make up so much of a car, plus lighten the weight so the car can go further on gasoline.

Since fossil fuels are finite, many assume we’ll just make them out of plants in the future. But that’s really hard, biomass has too much other junk that needs to be removed, oxygen, phosphorous, and another 20 or so elements. These need to be removed or the many of the process steps will not work and a low quality plastic produced.

To illustrate the problem, consider that the chemical composition of plants is one reason cellulosic ethanol is not yet commercial. It’s just too difficult to break lignocellulose down into fermentable sugars. Even if you came up with the perfect enzyme for corn stover to break it down, a different hybrid and very likely some other kind of planet entirely might have a dissimilar enough chemistry to keep the enzyme from being effective.

Creating plastics from biomass also has a negative energy return: you’ve got to plant, harvest, deliver biomass to the plastics plant and use it before it composts. Then you’ll need even more biomass to power the dozens of steps (since fossil fuels are finite), fabricate the plastic to the desired shape, deliver it, and install it in an auto.

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