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Experts bet on diesel cars that purify the air against the «energy populism» of electric

Automotive News

An analysis of the Spanish Association of Automotive Professionals ensures that «the prohibitions, motivated by a poor diagnosis of the situation, will not help at all to improve air quality»

The combustion engine, increasingly refined, efficient and less polluting, must play a fundamental role in the future to help reduce emissions and combat climate change. It is the main thesis of the analysis “The combustion engines against the climate crisis”, distributed by the Spanish Association of Automotive Professionals, which brings together professors, university professors and engineers of the sector

The text, signed by José Ramón Serrano, Raúl Payri, Bernardo Tormos and Alejandro Gómez Vilanova, of the CMT Thermal Motors University Institute of the Polytechnic of Valencia, ensures that the Dieselgate emission manipulation scandal has generated “a butterfly effect” in the industry, now subject to new regulations “which oblige to obtain much more efficient and clean internal combustion engines”.

Experts criticize that, as a result of this scandal, “the media and other market players”, as well as political actors, “without a clear scientific basis”, have generated a situation of “energy populism” in which claims «the death of combustion engines in the medium term», replaced by electric and their batteries. In this regard, they emphasize that the prohibitions of diesel cars and gasoline, “motivated by a poor diagnosis of the situation, will not help at all either to improve air quality or to mitigate global warming.”

In his view, electrical technology, imposed as an alternative to conventional models, “is not new, is not clean and, in general, is not free from problems.” As they detail, the first major problem is that the electric motor “does not use an energy source, but an energy vector,” since this type of energy cannot be accumulated in large quantities. “Despite the progress observed, batteries are a totally immature technology.”

In this sense, they criticize that the refueling is unacceptably long, its energy density is unacceptably low and its useful life is less than that of the vehicle itself. In addition, «the supply of raw materials for its manufacture« nickel, lithium, cobalt, copper, manganese …) is a pressing problem due to its exorbitant price (…) they are extracted from countries where human rights are violated ( …) and are fundamentally refined in China, so geopolitical problems are added to the insecurity of supply ».

Electric car pollution

Experts also question the cleanliness of electric power generation with the current energy mix, which only includes, worldwide, 10% renewable energy. “Electricity is produced in most cases from non-renewable energy sources (with 60% losses) and has to be transported (with additional losses of another 20%). “It is clear that, with the current energy mix, the alternative of electric motors will not eliminate global CO2 emissions.”

Faced with this technology, they defend traditional diesel and gasoline engines, in which “a revolution is coming.” “The turbochargers, organic Rankine cycles (ORC) and hybridization are part, dedicated to extracting each energy Joule.” At the same time, research in catalyst chemistry “offers interesting possibilities for cleaning exhaust gases to incredible limits.”

While they assume that fossil fuel production generates pollutants, remember that “neither the production of the batteries nor the production of electricity are free of CO2 emissions and pollutants.” Meanwhile, “a modern Euro 6d Temp Diesel engine can clean the air of particles and smog (polluting fog) in heavily polluted countries or during severe pollution episodes.”

They also report, citing an investigation by Andreas Mayer carried out by modifying particulate filters in construction machinery, that «the particle traps of modern combustion engines reduce the level of PM10 below the atmospheric average value». At the same time, they could use synthetic fuels, generated by CO2 previously captured from the atmosphere, “which would represent an efficient way to remove CO2.”

«Technology is available and research is underway to allow next-generation internal combustion engines to act as air pollutant vacuum cleaners in large cities. This is something that electric motors with batteries cannot do, ”they say. At the same time, they downplay the impact of a hypothetical total conversion of the car park in electricity: «The contribution of transport to world emissions has historically remained at 10% (…) a massive change would mean a potential global reduction of 11% of the equivalent tons of CO2 that is emitted, and that in the case that the electric motors charged with battery from 100% clean energy ».


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