Green Vehicle Guide

Electric Cars

By Neftali (Nef) Hernandez

Technologies that make life simpler usually start to gain market share, get public acceptance and finally prevail over others.  Wi-Fi wireless technology, for example.  When it started, it was not user friendly or faster than an Ethernet cable.  However it was convenient and gave people the freedom to be detached from their desk or office table.  Now Wi-Fi is widely used to access the internet everywhere.  The same thing happened with digital cameras.  At the beginning I got used to the expression “digital cameras will never replace film cameras, because they will never have the same resolution.”  Guess what? They have replaced almost completely, film cameras.

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In my opinion environmentally friendly technologies that meet the same criteria won’t be the exception, especially, Electric Vehicles (EVs).  You can find out more about environmentally friendly vehicles at EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.

I am confident that many of the shortcomings (lack of infrastructure to “plug into,” range on a full charge, battery lifespan) will eventually be overcome.  Today some experimental EVs can even give you almost 300 miles per charge and have the option of fully charging the battery in less than 4 hours.  “Four hours?  That is a lot.” Yes, it is.  But if you get in the habit of recharging your car every time you stop in your home, you may never have to wait the 4 hours.

American automobile makers are wonderful innovators and have been moving into EV manufacturing over the last several years, even pushing EPA to come up with a new sticker.

This is creating a healthy competition that will bring more affordable EVs to the general public and will likely give people greater confidence in these cars.  Is an EV better for you than the combustion engine cars of today?  Answering this is very subjective because it depends on your unique needs.  I know my answer is not that clear.  However the environmental benefits of EV are growing (zero emissions of pollution and lower noise levels) so if you ask me… Do you think that an EV could replace my combustion engine car?  My answer is simple “Yes, it will, someday.”

The next big thing for the EVs might be designing them in such a way that they can be disassembled and their components reused or recycled easily when the vehicle reaches it usable life, minimizing waste for generations to come.  Such an approach might be applied to many things that we produce, but I’ll save that for another blog.

 About the Author: Neftali Hernandez grew up in Puerto Rico and is an Environmental Scientist with EPA Region 7’s Drinking Water Branch.  He is a member of EPA’s Water Emergency Response Group and has a bachelor of science degree in biology and a masters of science degree in environmental health from the University of Puerto Rico.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday – Apps for the Environment: The New Way of Communicating Science and Information

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.
By Jing Zhang

Want to know the weather tomorrow, the next movie showing, or the latest Hollywood gossip? There’s an app for that! In the age of smart phones, answers are literally at your fingertips on your iPhone or Android device. There’s no need to scour the internet for solutions when you can simply download an app that will gather the relevant information for you in a user-friendly application on your phone.

Working in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, I constantly hear of the developments and data that Agency researchers and scientists have produced. These scientists work diligently year around on protecting the environment and human health as outlined in Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s Seven Priorities. What better way is there for communicating the resources and discoveries of EPA researchers than in an easy-to-use app on your mobile device?

challengebanner_MThe EPA Apps for the Environment Challenge invites software developers to use EPA data to develop apps so the public can understand or protect the environment in their daily lives. Want to know the air quality where you live or which cars have the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions? There could be an app for that!

EPA has a lot of data that is publicly available. This data includes information from the Toxic Release Inventory which tells you facilities that dispose of or release toxic chemicals, real time air quality monitoring, green vehicle guide that gives environmental performance guides for vehicles, a Superfund website, and chemical toxicity information from the ToxCast database. Because these datasets are overwhelming for those with less technical and scientific knowledge like me, EPA held a series of webinars where data owners explained the information.

If you’re like me and don’t know the first thing about developing an app, you can still participate by submitting ideas for apps. These ideas are useful in providing developers and researchers a window of insight into the needs and wants of the public.

For more information and rules, visit the Apps for the Environment website. The deadline for submissions is September 16. In the meantime, you can find out the latest information on Twitter, just search #greenapps.

About the Author: Jing Zhang is a student services contractor working with the science communications team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.