It was a fun show on KALW radio yesterday. You can listen to it here. We got a number of questions comparing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to electric vehicles. Marc Geller, my fellow panelist, was quite adamant that battery electrics offer better environmental and cost benefits overall, given the expense of building a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and the energy it takes to produce the hydrogen fuel (not to mention the carbon footprint of that process).
People also asked about the toxic footprint of the battery, from creation to disposal. I’m always happy to dispel misconceptions about EVs, as it’s a new technology and even educated, well-meaning people have heard misleading information about EVs. The toxic footprint is one of them. First of all, battery-manufacturing impacts pale in comparison to the offsetting pollution from driving EVs compared to fossil fuel vehicles. Second, the batteries can be completely recycled (as hybrid batteries currently are) and even repurposed to go back into the vehicle or used in other applications, like home energy storage.
Another myth is that electricity is as dirty as oil. Not true. In about 16% of the country, the grid is quite dirty, and driving a hybrid car would be better than an EV. However, besides those places (like Wyoming), in the vast majority of the country, you are far better off driving an EV.
You can listen to the show for more. One interesting note, the moderator was David Onek, who happens to be the son-in-law of Michael Dukakis, who happens to have been my instructor at UCLA and who influenced my research and conclusions in Railtown. So it’s a small world, and it all seems to boil down (in this case) to electrifying transportation, from rail to EVs.