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Going Electric


Photon Guy
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It is common knowledge that burning fossil fuels can be harmful to the environment. However, if we are going to burn fossil fuels I believe there are ways to do it that are less harmful. For instance, smoke stacks. With smoke stacks you don't have ground level pollutants. Ground level pollutants are more harmful than pollutants way up in the air which is why I believe factories are required to have them. However there are some machines that burn fossil fuels that will result in ground level pollutants the most obvious being cars and trucks. Other gas operated machinery such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, tractors, etc, further contribute to the problem.

As it is, they do have cars that are 100% electrical and more and more are being developed. While 100% electric cars are not so common, yet, what has become quite common are hybrid cars, cars that use both gas and electricity. Lots of people drive hybrid cars including myself. I see no reason why electrical versions of other machinery also can't be made. However, even if everybody drove electric cars and used electric machinery the electricity would still have to be produced and electricity is produced in power plants which burn fossil fuels, hence you're back at that problem of the pollutants that result when fossil fuels are burned. However, power plants could use smoke stacks so that we at least won't have ground level pollutants, not the kind that are produced by cars and trucks. 

Also, there are methods for producing electricity that don't use fossil fuels. Solar, wind, and water power come to mind. The Niagra Falls has water wheels that produce electricity that power much of the surrounding area, I remember seeing that when visiting. In places such as Iowa you see windmills all over the place. And solar power, while it leaves much to be desired, it is being researched and developed right now and new developments in the field of solar energy are being made all the time. So we're making good progress. Im for clean energy.

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I don't think smokestacks are "way up in the air" in terms of most environmental impact, especially global warming. They are up in terms of local impact. Also note that smokestacks generally deal with different kinds of pollutants than internal combustion engines. Gasoline is a liquid and coal, for example, is a solid. You get more particulates from the latter. (and, interestingly, particulates are apparently higher from EVs than IC engines)

Smokestacks seem to be a way of polluting the air, water and land of the the people downwind of you, rather than the local folk.

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There is no advantage to smokestacks with respect to global warming - and CO2 is the most abundant form of waste humans make, by a very, very large margin; about 5 times more than all other waste combined, by weight. Much more by volume. Shifting to electric vehicles AND shifting to low emissions electricity is necessary, not one without the other; both are happening, if much slower than the seriousness of the climate problem requires. More new power generation is solar and wind than any other sort now but we haven't stopped building new fossil fuel plants yet; emissions growth is slowing with overall generation rising but globally it has yet to become emissions reductions. I think if electricity production can become low emissions that will flow through to lower emissions of manufacturing and across whole economies.

Whether EV's lead the way or low emissions energy comes first, they complement each other in ways that make doing one a strong incentive to do the other.

2 hours ago, swansont said:

Smokestacks seem to be a way of polluting the air, water and land of the the people downwind of you, rather than the local folk.

Diversion may have been the intent but dilution as well as diversion seems to be the result; diluted enough made the people even further downwind safer too and for a long time the climate impacts really were insignificant. When it took navvies with shovels and wheelbarrows the amount of coal simply could not ever be enough to have a big effect and what few scientists that thought about it at all also lived in cold climates and thought a bit of global warming would be good. Modern coal mines even have robotic trucks (including battery electric, because they care about emissions... err, because they reduce costs) to help bring the quantities up to globally catastrophic levels.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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In terms of electrical systems causing pollution, I do know that electricity creates ozone which I believe can be harmful at ground level. I don't know about any other harmful emissions or pollutants created from electricity. 

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4 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

In terms of electrical systems causing pollution, I do know that electricity creates ozone which I believe can be harmful at ground level. I don't know about any other harmful emissions or pollutants created from electricity. 

“pollution from electricity” and “pollution from electric motors (or vehicles)” are not exactly the same thing. Motors and engines suffer from friction, which release pollutants, as do braking systems.

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22 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

However, if we are going to burn fossil fuels I believe there are ways to do it that are less harmful. For instance, smoke stacks. With smoke stacks you don't have ground level pollutants. Ground level pollutants are more harmful than pollutants way up in the air which is why I believe factories are required to have them.

That's what they thought in the 19th century.
In the 20th , they realised that the smoke doesn't "blow away", because there is no "away".

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2 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

That's what they thought in the 19th century.
In the 20th , they realised that the smoke doesn't "blow away", because there is no "away".

Sadly, a nice (correct) image.

+1

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7 hours ago, swansont said:

“pollution from electricity” and “pollution from electric motors (or vehicles)” are not exactly the same thing. Motors and engines suffer from friction, which release pollutants, as do braking systems.

Well I don't see why such pollutants would be any worse in an electric motor than they would be in a gasoline motor.

4 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

That's what they thought in the 19th century.
In the 20th , they realised that the smoke doesn't "blow away", because there is no "away".

So is there any point to having smoke stacks?

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31 minutes ago, Photon Guy said:

Well I don't see why such pollutants would be any worse in an electric motor than they would be in a gasoline motor.

So is there any point to having smoke stacks?

As Ken alluded to, it protects those nearby more than it hurts those that receive the diluted pollutants.

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16 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Well I don't see why such pollutants would be any worse in an electric motor than they would be in a gasoline motor.

Motor, or car? The latter is discussed in the link, and as I already summarized.

I suspect there’s more friction in a gas engine than in an electric motor, as well. Pistons move, in addition to the axle that both have. 

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8 hours ago, swansont said:

Motor, or car? The latter is discussed in the link, and as I already summarized.

I suspect there’s more friction in a gas engine than in an electric motor, as well. Pistons move, in addition to the axle that both have. 

Motors for any kind of gas or electric machine be it a car, lawnmower, ect.

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9 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Motors for any kind of gas or electric machine be it a car, lawnmower, ect.

As I said, gas engines probably have more friction, and of course, there's the combustion.

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2 hours ago, swansont said:

As I said, gas engines probably have more friction, and of course, there's the combustion.

So having electric engines would be less polluting, not just in terms of emissions but in terms of other factors such as friction.

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54 minutes ago, iNow said:

Friction is not a type of pollution, even though heat transfer is involved. Unless you consider brake dust to be a type of pollution

And AFAIK it is considered to be that. To clarify: Friction is the source, not the type. Friction gives rise to particulates that get into the air.

 

1 hour ago, Photon Guy said:

So having electric engines would be less polluting, not just in terms of emissions but in terms of other factors such as friction.

I was surmising. You should find other sources. I was going by the article I linked to, which discussed vehicles. The discuss friction as a source of pollution, specifically braking, pointing out that regenerative braking reduces this load, since the electromagnetic nature is non-contact (which also applies to electric motors)

 

 

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