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Big Benefits Of Electric Vehicles

Even though the electric car has been around in some shape or form for in excess of 100 years, it is only recently that it has made any strides towards the mass market. Tesla has been one of the frontrunners in the sector and the launch of the company’s Tesla Model 3, the group’s first mass-market vehicle, has been an unprecedented success. The company took pre-orders totalling $14 billion with hundreds of millions of dollars put down as part payment. So, what are the real long-term benefits of electric vehicles?

Emissions

We all know about the harmful emissions from traditional petrol/diesel vehicles which add to air pollution. Over the years we have seen many examples of air pollution impacting the environment, the weather and elements of everyday life such as health. So, perhaps one of the real long-term benefits of electric vehicles is the fact they have zero emissions at source.

It would be unfair to suggest that the whole electric vehicle cycle is a zero emission system when in reality this is not the case. There is a need to create the electric power, transferred via batteries, to run these vehicles and there are obviously emissions related to this. The level of emissions created in this process will depend upon how the electricity is created as we see more and more environmentally friendly power systems being built. In a worst-case scenario, the level of emissions from this particular stage of the electric car revolution is minimal compared to traditional vehicles.

Minimal repairs

As there are only two or three moving parts in an electric vehicle this has had a massive impact upon general wear/tear and repairs. Critics might suggest this is one reason why it has taken so long for the electric vehicle to hit the mass market because obviously car companies have a vested interest in supplying spare parts. When you also consider the current system used to produce spare parts most of any emissions from this area would also be eliminated.

It stands to reason that a vehicle with few moving parts is likely to be more reliable, as there is less that can go wrong, so this is also a strong positive going forward. It may take some time to build up a network of qualified tradespeople to both service and repair electric vehicles but this will happen in due course when the market is large enough. In the meantime it may be a case of searching your area for an electric vehicle expert and checking out the best price.

Inner-city driving

While we have covered a lack of emissions from electric vehicles, one area which will benefit enormously in the years ahead is large cities such as London.

The density of large buildings in cities such as London has a seriously detrimental impact upon air quality. A lack of direct wind flow ensures that unhealthy emissions remain in the atmosphere for longer than they would normally leading to problems with health such as asthma. Several large cities around the world already have congestion controls to reduce the emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles and many of these cities will eventually ban petrol/diesel vehicles in favour of all electric.

At this moment in time there are tax benefits to driving electric vehicles and at some stage there will be areas of large cities and large towns which are only accessible by electric vehicles. Tesla is currently working on an electric truck and we know that some leading delivery services already have electric vehicles at their disposal. The idea that petrol/diesel vehicles could be outlawed within 20 years is perhaps ambitious but there is no doubt that there will be ongoing restrictions on their use.

Electric vehicle prices

As with any relatively new industry it will take some time for the benefits of mass-market production to filter through to electric vehicle prices. The new Tesla Model 3 is priced at around 35,000 USD which is touching mass-market accessibility but hopefully the price will fall further as the number of vehicles grows and efficiency savings are secured. This is a natural progression for any new service or new product and with governments around the world incentivising electric vehicle users via the tax system, hopefully mass-market production prices are not too far away.

One area which may take a little longer to develop is that of electric vehicle car insurance with a distinct lack of competition at this moment in time. Personal injury claims with regards to electric vehicle incidents may also be slightly more complicated than a traditional road accident personal injury claim because of the electric power involved. This has prompted some confusion and conflicting opinions amongst experts.

How will this impact the way in which the emergency services react? What type of additional training will be required for those dealing with electric vehicle incidents? Will changes need to be made regarding the law for all road accident These are all issues which will be addressed in due course because as the market grows so will investment in so many different areas.

Where Does Your Recycling Waste Really Go?

Many areas of the recycling industry attract rumours, counter rumours, truths and untruths which tend to overshadow the real benefits of recycling. We will now take a look at what happens to your recycled waste once it is picked up and how it can be recycled into everyday items.

Recycling bins

In the UK we have individual recycling bins for plastic, glass and other waste products which are collected by the local authorities. The situation can be slightly different in some areas of the world which can use a process known as “single stream recycling” where there is no need to separate paper, plastic and glass as this will be done automatically further down the line. It can be annoying having to split all of your waste into individual bins but the benefits to the climate and indeed the growth in the recycling industry are there for all to see.

The separation process

We will look at the separation process with regards to the “single stream recycling” process as this will give you an idea of how advanced and complex the recycling industry has become.

When the waste is collected it will arrive at what is known as a “materials recovery facility” where the separation process begins. The process itself looks and sounds very simple but it is extremely focused and able to separate all kinds of material in an automated fashion.

Separating paper

All of the waste is placed on a conveyor belt which is structured in such a way to ensure that heavier items such as glass, plastic and metal fall through holes in the initial conveyor belt and are caught on another belt below. This separates all paper, cardboard and newspaper which will be batched and recycled.

Magnetic metals

Once the paper has been stripped out then magnetic metals are next on the list with huge magnets hovering above the conveyor belt simply lifting metal products and placing them in a bin for recycling. This simple process is extremely effective and ensures that no ferrous metals make it to the next stage.

Non-magnetic metals

This is perhaps the most interesting stage of the separation process. Using what is known as an “eddy current rotor” material such as aluminium are charged with electricity which causes them to shoot away from other materials on the conveyor belt to be collected in a separate bin. Simple but ingenious!

Separating plastic

Using an optical scanner the machine is able to differentiate between plastic and glass, funnelling all plastic products into a separate bin using “a blast of air” to fire them off the conveyor belt.

Glass

Now that all other materials have been separated all we are left with is glass and the separation process is complete.

Recycling individual materials

As we touched on above, some local authorities will make you separate your waste before collection while others will use the single stream system. However, at some point they will all arrive at the next stage of the recycling process which involves manipulating individual materials into a form in which they can be recycled and reused.

Recycling paper

The key here is to recycle all paper into pulp which is the most basic form of paper from which an array of different products can be made. All paper which arrives at the paper mill is loaded into a de-inker machine which is a chemical washing process that separates the paper from the ink. This creates pulp slurry which is then loaded into a large industrial washing machine which spins at excessively high speeds and removes unwanted particles such as string and glue. The paper pulp is then transferred to a press and ends up on giant paper rolls which are used by industry.

Recycling metals

The individual types of metals, ferrous and non-ferrous, are transferred to metal mills where they are heated to extreme temperatures at which point they become a molten liquid. This liquid is then placed into ingot moulds which can then be used to create anything from filing cabinets to tinfoil and even large structures such as bridges.

Recycling plastics

The plastics recycling process is slightly more complicated because as you will see next time you look at the bottom of a plastic bottle or other plastic product, they are all numbered. This number relates to a specific type of plastic with example the most common found in water bottles and juice bottles. Each different variation of plastic is separated and then sent along a conveyor belt with a grinding machine which cuts and chops the plastic into the very fine plastic flakes. These flakes are melted down to create a polymer which is then used to create an array of everyday items such as rubbish bins, etc.

Recycling glass

There is no filtering of different sized glass products as they are all placed on a conveyor belt and crushed into tiny elements called “cullet”. The cullet is then either sent direct to manufacturers in its basic form or turned into molten glass and used to create numerous everyday items such as floor tiles, garden ornaments, glass door knobs and even beaded jewellery.

Selling recyclable waste overseas

One of the most common rumours hanging over the recycling process is the idea that waste is sold to countries such as China which often have a shortage of natural resources. The truth is that countries such as China do pay good money for recyclable waste which is transported in large container ships. Once they reach their destination the recycling process begins………………