Carnegie Mellon University’s Constantine Samaras and Kyle Meisterling report that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming, but the benefits are highly dependent on how the electricity system changes in the coming decades.
In a recent article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the authors urge federal legislators and the electricity industry to increase the deployment of low-carbon electricity technology to power plug-in hybrid vehicles.
“Plug-in hybrids represent an opportunity to reduce oil consumption, leverage next-generation biofuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The types of power plants installed in the next two decades will not only affect how much we can reduce emissions from electricity, but also from vehicles if we plan on plug-in hybrids playing a substantial role,” said Samaras, a Ph.D. candidate in Carnegie Mellon’s departments of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) and Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE).
“We are finding that even when the impacts from producing batteries are included, plug-in hybrids still produce slightly less greenhouse gases than hybrids that run only on gasoline. But plug-in hybrids could cut emissions in half if they are charged with electricity from low-carbon sources,” said Meisterling, a Ph.D. candidate in EPP.
Already, automakers have discussed plans to develop plug-in hybrids and California recently ruled that the auto industry must sell nearly 60,000 plug-ins statewide by 2014. With the price of gas heading beyond $4 per gallon, interest in alternative vehicles continues to grow. Samaras and Meisterling also say plug-ins may allow greater use of the limited supply of biofuels because they use a lot less gasoline than regular cars.
The researchers found that life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from plug-in hybrids are about one-third less than a traditional gasoline-powered car. They also argue that with coal-fired electricity, emissions from plug-in hybrids are still lower than traditional cars, but are higher than ordinary hybrids. The call for increased low-carbon electricity supplies comes at a time when the U.S. electricity industry plans to build 154 new coal plants in the next 24 years to replace older plants being phased out.
“The type of power plants we build today will be around for a long time. We need to begin developing policies that allow us to make big dents in oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Samaras, the recipient of a prestigious Teresa Heinz Fellowship for Environmental Research, which she is using to analyze public policies involving plug-in hybrids and low-carbon electricity.
Additional research support for this project came from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Climate Decision Making Center and the Electric Power Research Institute, and from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation through Carnegie Mellon’s Electricity Industry Center.
Chriss Swaney | EurekAlert!
A solution for cleaning up PFAS, one of the world's most intractable pollutants
06.12.2019 | Colorado State University
Diamonds in your devices: Powering the next generation of energy storage
05.12.2019 | Tokyo University of Science
University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making
In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...
With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction
The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...
Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds
Research from a leading international expert on the health of the Great Lakes suggests that the growing intensity and scale of pollution from plastics poses serious risks to human health and will continue to have profound consequences on the ecosystem.
In an article published this month in the Journal of Waste Resources and Recycling, Gail Krantzberg, a professor in the Booth School of Engineering Practice...
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
06.12.2019 | Earth Sciences
06.12.2019 | Life Sciences
06.12.2019 | Information Technology