Electric vehicles emit more fine particles than you think

Electric vehicles emit more fine particles than you think


However, the use of electric vehicles is supported by the authorities to improve air quality.

This is the solution advocated for combating air pollution, especially in large cities: the use of electric vehicles. At a point where the government has set up aid to finance the purchase of an electric vehicle, more expensive than a thermal one, that can reach 5,000 euros.

However, an Adime report highlights the benefits of electricity in air quality. The study, published in late April, shows the limits of using electricity to fight air pollution. Although electric vehicles do not emit nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide or volatile organic compounds, unlike thermal vehicles, they do emit large amounts of fine particles.

The effect of tire friction on the road

Why ? Because these electric vehicles are heavier than thermal vehicles due to the weight of the batteries. Due to this heavier weight, the tires fitted to these vehicles are wider. When the vehicle is in motion, the friction of these wider tires on the road emits more fine particles than the narrower tires, due to the larger contact area.

However, Adime writes, “particulate emissions from exhaust friction from brakes, tires and roads become more prevalent than emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles equipped with particulate filters, to the point that they represent more than half of the particles produced by road traffic in Europe “, according to the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission.

Pollution emitted outside the exhaust is predominant

A trend that will increase even in the future “unless regulations on emissions of brake particles or tires are set,” Adime continues. In particular, with regenerative braking, electric vehicles emit fewer particles than the braking system of vehicles with internal combustion engines (3% of the fine particles outside the exhaust emitted by an electric vehicle come from braking and 25% in the case thermal vehicle).

In terms of emissions due to contact between the tires and the road, they represent 61% of the fine particles excluding the exhaust gases for an electric vehicle, compared to 47% for a thermal vehicle. Finally, those from the resuscitation represent 36% of the fine particles excluding the exhaust gases for an electric vehicle, compared to 28% for a thermal vehicle.

A call not to bet everything on electricity

Observations prompt Adem to write that recent studies do not show a significant difference in total particulate emissions between long-range electric vehicles and new thermal vehicles, which emit almost no other particles in the “exhaust”, thanks to particulate filters.

Based on these observations, Ademi urges us not to bet on everything in electric vehicles to reduce air pollution, but to correlate “other practices (…) such as reducing vehicles, developing eco-driving and active modes of operation. … ».

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