ICEMAN is currently focused on manufacturing. However, it has the potential to be expanded across every industry. In some industries, it can operate exactly as it does for manufacturing. For example, in the food-processing industry, the emissions from the manufacturing process for foods can be measured and calculated the same way as any other manufacturing process. The CFI label could go right there on the cereal box, next to the nutrition label, letting consumers know how green that cereal is.
But ICEMAN can go further than manufacturing across industries. Food, for example, can expand all the way back to the farm. We can work with farmers to develop a system that accurately measures the greenhouse gas emissions of agricultural processes, creating a Carbon Factor Index for farm goods.
ICEMAN can also be used for automobiles. In fact, today’s electric vehicles are a perfect example of why ICEMAN is needed across all industries. Electric vehicles are considered “green” because they produce zero emissions when you drive them. Companies advertise electric vehicles as having no tailpipe emissions. The average consumer understandably assumes to mean zero emissions overall.
But this does not take into account the emissions created by the manufacturing process, or the electricity used to charge the car. In fact, massive emissions are created by manufacturing the batteries used in electric vehicles. Just mining the lithium needed for the batteries has an enormous impact on the environment.
The “greenness” of electric vehicles also does not take into account the carbon footprint of the electricity used to charge electric vehicles. If a vehicle is being charged on a grid powered by coal, the generation of the electricity used to charge the car creates huge amounts of carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, the automobile industry has been working on gas engine efficiency since the 1970s. Cars now have catalytic converters, which scrub the exhaust, converting carbon monoxide into the less dangerous carbon sulfite. Gas engine cars today produce far fewer emissions than they did in the 1970s.
I put this to the test by comparing the carbon footprint of a Nissan Leaf and a Nissan Versa: the same car, same platform, but one—the Leaf—is electric, while the other—the Versa—is gas-powered. I looked up the gas mileage of the Versa. Then, through the EPA, I looked up the carbon footprint of burning a gallon of gas. Moreover, I calculated the carbon footprint of charging the battery of the Leaf on a fossil fuel grid. I found that it caused more greenhouse gas emissions than driving a gas-powered car.
Ultimately, when all the factors are taken into account, the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process for electric vehicles plus the carbon footprint of the electricity used to charge the vehicle on a non-renewable grid amounts to almost the same carbon footprint as driving a gas-powered vehicle. In my test, the Versa actually had a smaller carbon footprint than the Leaf. However, on a grid powered by renewable energy, an electric vehicle has a much lower carbon footprint than a gas-powered vehicle.
With ICEMAN implemented in the automobile industry, consumers would know the true carbon footprint of a vehicle and could factor that into their purchasing decision. This, in turn, would drive electric car producers to develop lower-carbon methods of manufacturing. Moreover, as more people learn the true carbon footprint of an electric vehicle, the more they will want to live on a renewable grid, putting pressure on their communities, towns, and states to switch to renewable energy.
ICEMAN’s potential impact on the automobile industry demonstrates how great an impact ICEMAN can potentially have across all sectors and industries.