Assessment of Technology Assignment 2

Subject: 💻 Technology
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 10
Word count: 2502
Topics: 🚗 Electric Cars, Innovation, Waste Management
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Section 1

(Group member A)

Definition of the Scope

The BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) is a transportation medium that utilize electric power stored in the rechargeable battery packs to produce motion (Manzetti & Mariasiu, 2015).

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The BEV refers to any vehicle that relies solely on electric energy for propulsion. As such, this definition differentiates this kind of car from the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) since it uses both the electric powertrain as well as the internal combustion engine. Additionally, it also stands out from the conventional combustion engine that relied on carbon-based fossil fuels to initiate motion (Manzetti Mariasiu, 2015). The BEV is synonymous with electric (EV) or battery-only vehicles (BOV). The vehicle’s battery packs use chemicals such as lithium, nickel, and lead to store energy, which is dispensed to the motors resulting in movement. This technology has existed for over one hundred years. In fact, the electric engine preceded the combustion engine. These developments occurred between the 1820s and 1920s (Morimoto, 2015). However, the discovery of significant oil deposits led to the popularization of the internal combustion engine that has remained dominant to date. Nevertheless, recent developments in the 21st century have seen a resurgence in the electric motor due to environmental concerns.  This ‘renaissance’ age of the electric motor has led to increased popularity of the vehicle. As such, this project will limit its scope to the design and sustainability of the BEV in the 21st Century.

Section 2

(Group member B)

Purpose of the Technology

The primary goal of the BEV is to provide an alternative and sustainable source of energy for transportation. During the 20th century, a ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) has dominated the automobile industry. In fact, over 90% of the vehicles currently in use the internal combustion engine (Weis et al., 2012). However, the use of carbon-based fuels has led to two significant concerns that the BEV seeks to address.

Firstly, oil reserves are depleting rapidly. According to DiLallo (2014), BP estimates that the world has oil reserves that will last the next 53.3 Years based on current production and consumption. The accuracy of this assessment is a controversial issue. However, it underpins the claim that oil reserves are finite. It also leads to the need for alternative energies to satisfy transport needs. The modern BEV is an innovative response to the unsustainability of oil. The technology uses electric motors that draw power from rechargeable battery packs. These automobiles can be recharged on a regular basis to provide the necessary range and fulfill transport needs. Unlike the internal combustion engine, the BEV design has an infinite lifetime due to the availability of electricity to recharge the vehicles.

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Secondly, the BEV is an environmentally friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine. The use of carbon-based fuels has been blamed for releasing pollutant gases, which result in global warming. In fact, vehicles and the transport industry is responsible for most GHGs (Green House Gas) emissions after factories. This factor has made the engine unsustainable from an environmental perspective. Continued use of internal combustion engines poses a challenge to the ecological health of the planet. BEVs cut these emissions by over 50% leading to a reduction in atmospheric CO2 contributed by the transport industry. As such, BEV technology satisfies a crucial environmental and social need for a healthier planet.

(Group member C)

Electric Vehicle Design

The BEV has two significant designs whose popularity render them inconvenient for use. These models employ the use of electrical motors to generate motion. However, the technology’s architecture is different. One design places hub motors at the wheels to cause movement (Manzetti & Mariasiu, 2015). As such, power is generated at each wheel. An electronic control determines current transfer from the batteries to the wheels. This design does not have a transmission as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: BEV with hub motors (Manzetti & Mariasiu, 2015)

On the other hand, the second and favorite engine design utilizes the conventional architecture with some minor alterations. This engine type retails the transmission and differential. It replaces the internal combustion engine and places a central electric motor that receives current from the battery packs (Manzetti & Mariasiu, 2015). This engine also uses electronic control that manages the transmission of current from the batteries to the electric motor as shown in figure 2 below. The differential changes the flow of power and directs it to each of the wheels. This vehicle heavy due to additional parts. However, it provides an opportunity to improve engine efficiency using gear changes.

Figure 2: BEV design with transmission and differential (Manzetti & Mariasiu, 2015)

The battery pack is one significant component of any BEV. The rechargeable fuel cells use chemicals to store energy that is released to the electronic control and motor to initiate motion. Various types of chemicals are used to describe battery technologies (Thomas, 2009). The lead acid battery is a popular option due to their cheap costs. The Nickel-Cadmium battery is useful due to its long lifespan compared to alternatives. The Lithium-ion battery is used commonly due to its high charge storage capacity.  These cells are bulky and contribute to the increased weight of electric vehicles. However, the use of electrical current and induction motors leads to improved power efficiency and increased torque.

(Group member D)

Position in the Value Chain

The BEV fits into the logistical aspects of the value chain. The vehicles can be incorporated into the fleet to facilitate the movement of goods and people from one location to another. Businesses stand to make savings in fuel costs when they integrate the BEV technology into their logistical operations (Juan, Mendez, Faulin, de Armas & Grasman, 2016). The BEVs provide efficient use of power as well as little demands regarding fuel costs. For instance, the electric motor produces significant energy due to the absence of friction that is present in internal combustion engines that have many mechanical parts. Additionally, BEVs utilize the current to create more power than the conventional internal combustion engine. This power efficiency means that these cars can handle large cargo with a little strain on the vehicle. Additionally, the accessibility of power outlets implies that it is easy to charge the automobiles at low costs to the organization. Therefore, the electric automobiles are viable components of the logistics aspect of the value chain.

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Additionally, the use of electric vehicles in logistics can have a secondary impact on the value chain through public relations. Many companies pride themselves in their corporate social responsibility, which usually includes environmental awareness (Quak, Nesterova & van Rooijen, 2016). The use of electric cars in a business means that the company’s deliverable has a reduced carbon footprint. This fact can act as a public relations strategy to communicate a message of environmental awareness with the aim of appealing to the public. For instance, one can be inclined to use a BEV Uber service than one using the internal combustion engine to diminish the carbon footprint of the service’s delivery. As such, the BEV offers opportunities in organizational branding and the minimization of the operational carbon footprint.

The use of BEVs in logistics relies on the availability of charging points. As such, it is possible to claim that BEV use depends on charging technologies. One of the most significant challenges in the incorporation of the BEVs into the value chain has been the availability of charging points that are vital in the sustainable use of the technology (Quak, Nesterova & van Rooijen, 2016). Conventionally, electric vehicles suffer from low range due to limited power storage capacity. As such, the availability of charging stations promotes the ability to recharge and carry on with a trip, especially in long trips. Additionally, these vehicles depend on software development technologies. The development of BEVs in the 21st century has seen significant advances in software integration into the automotive industry.  For instance, BEVs require software integration to monitor the performance of the electric engine. Therefore, the availability of software development technologies enhances the production of BEVs.

Production

BEV production values have increased significantly since 2010. Each year, manufacturers have released more cars to the market as their demand increases. Figures from statista.com indicate production of over three million units for 2016 and slightly higher in 2017. Further statistics project growth in output in the next two years. For instance, the expected number of electrified powertrains for 2018 stands at 4.8 million, a significant increased from 2017’s 3.6 million (Statista.com, n.d.). These projections also predict production values of over 6 million in 2020 further illustrating the growth in BEV manufacturing. Similarly, battery and cell production for BEVs has increased significantly during this period. The participation of China, Japan, and the USA in battery production has increased the available products (Perkowski, 2017). This innovation plays a central role in the BEV production process since it provides the power source, which is arguably the most critical part of the electrified powertrain.

Section 3

(Group member D)

Using BEVs

The use of BEVs is limited to individuals or organizations that have a conscious awareness of the environment. The BEVs serve a primary purpose of reducing the carbon footprint of mobility and promoting environmental welfare (Wu & Zhang, 2017). As established previously, BEVs have low carbon emissions, thereby have a limited impact on the environment. Conventional internal combustion engines have been blamed for carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change. As such, the people using the BEVs seek to offset this effect of carbon-based fuels.

The use of these vehicles is based primarily on urban centers. BEVs are excellent commuting vehicles since they use less fuel, especially in highly populated urban areas. The low ranges of up to 300 miles usually found in these cars make them ideal for short trips (Quak, Nesterova & van Rooijen, 2016). The current technological state of BEVs does not guarantee long ranges for the battery packs. As such, route planning is essential to take advantage of their efficiency in short-haul journeys. Daily commenters can use these vehicles comfortably sine a night of charging offers enough range to satisfy short trips within urban centers. Additionally, their use in urban centers helps to reduce the levels of emissions released in traffic. Charging of these vehicles utilizes regular voltage power outlets of 110 volts for overnight charging (Peterson & Michalek, 2013). However, faster charging can be achieved using high voltage outlets of up to 400v. The main reason for using these vehicles is their environmentally friendly nature as well as power efficiency from an alternative energy source. Therefore, the demographic that purchases these cars is comprised mainly of ecologically aware individuals.

Implications of the BEV technology

(Group member E)

Positive effects.

The positive results of using BEVs is a reduction in carbon emissions from the transport industry. As established before, the transport sector contributes over a quarter of all the carbon emissions making it a challenge towards sustainability in the sector (Wu & Zhang, 2017). However, the use of BEVs significantly offset this issue since they have zero emissions and a low lifecycle carbon footprint. Despite the low adoption of electric-powered vehicles, they stand to facilitate significant progress towards reducing emissions from the transport industry. An assessment of Norway, which is the global leader in BEV adoption per capita, indicates progress towards lowering emissions (Vaughan, 2017). The government has advocated for the purchase of these vehicles by incentivizing users through tax write-offs, using bus lanes, free charging, and parking. These incentives are part of the government’s plans to achieve zero emissions from the transport sector in 2025. Norway is an example of the intended environmental benefit of using BEVs for urban use.

One unintended benefit of electric cars is the power efficiency that makes these vehicles more powerful compared to the internal combustion engine. BEVs are up to four times as efficient as the internal combustion engines (Manzetti Mariasiu, 2015). The BEVs produce more power per unit weight that gas-powered cars due to the efficiency and capabilities of the induction motor. This motor uses an electrical current from the battery to initiate motion from the magnetic energy created inside the engine. Additionally, the absence of many mechanical components within the BEV design reduces friction and increases the transmission of power. In doing so, BEVs have an excellent power transmission efficiency that occurs almost instantaneously. The result is a higher acceleration speed as well as load capabilities. These qualities are responsible for the high acceleration evidenced in Tesla models. The efficiency of these vehicles is evident in the regeneration of energy through braking. The cars use energy generated when braking to extend the range by recharging the battery. This technology promotes the effectiveness of BEVs in urban environments where frequent braking characterizes traffic movement. According to a study in Sweden, the regenerative braking energy can contribute 27% of the power transmitted to the wheels (Björnsson & Karlsson, 2016). This efficiency and power indicate the unintended advantage of the BEV.

An increased use of the BEVs can lead to a reduction in production costs. One major drawback of the electric drivetrain is its cost. Electric cars are usually approximately 20% more expensive than the internal combustion engine (Weiss et al., 2012). This cost differential comes from the costs of production. The low popularity of the cars leads to slow growth in sales. These market conditions indicate that BEVs are not mass-produced. However, increased sales and use of these products can support the development of the technology and allow manufacturers to realize the benefits of economies of scale that come with mass production. Therefore, increased use of BEVs can help reduce production and unit costs.

(Group member F)

Negative Implications of BEV Technology

Lithium deposits depletion.

The BEVs commonly use lithium-ion batteries since they are efficient power storage devices. These cells require lithium to facilitate power storage. Their popularity arises from their large capacities that result in longer ranges on a full charge. As the popularity of these batteries increases, it is predicted that lithium-mining operations will increase as well. BEV’s require the use of thousands of battery cells in one vehicle to facilitate motion (Mahmoudzadeh Pesiridis, Rajoo, Martinez-Botas & Esfahanian, 2017). In fact, the batteries are the heaviest aspect of the car, thereby indicating an intensive use of lithium. The usage of lithium-ion batteries is evident in other technologies such as cell phones. The mining of the mineral has led to rapid deterioration of the existing deposits. Research shows that lithium-resources declined by 4 million tons from 2007 to 2010. Such consumption is unsustainable especially with the proliferation of BEVs that rely on the product. However, it is possible to claim that recycling of batteries helps to reduce this impact. Nevertheless, the rapid use of the mineral indicates a path towards depletion of the finite resource. As such, the consumption of global lithium supplies is a crucial negative implication of BEVs.

Another significant effect of BEVs is the stress placed on the electricity grid. Fast charging, which users prefer is a large consumer of electricity. It requires the supply of high voltage current to recharge the vehicle (Mahmoudzadeh Pesiridis, Rajoo, Martinez-Botas & Esfahanian, 2017). Areas that do not have the appropriate electricity infrastructure such as capable transformers can lead to significant stress on the grid. Weak transformers can experience overheating and damage. Additionally, areas with a three-phase connection can experience an imbalance of current transmission due to uneven load distribution.

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