3D illustration of a compass with needle pointing the word electric.

Chemical Industry Helps Me Navigate the Winding Road to an Eco-Friendly Vehicle Upgrade

May 20, 2024
As I bid farewell to my trusty old Honda CR-V, the quest for a new, environmentally friendly vehicle begins.

My husband and I are the type to wear our cars into the ground before getting a new one. My trusty old 2009 Honda CR-V is still running (knock on wood), but we know its days are numbered. So, we’re on the hunt for a new car. 

We’ve been evaluating our choices and continue to debate what’s best for our small family. Given the current climate and several incentives to do so, we’ve been pondering if an electric vehicle is right for us. Electric vehicles are in high demand, but are they the only answer? Perhaps, in our wintry state, Illinois, a hybrid is the better choice. No matter what, we both agree we’d prefer not to go back to a fuel-only vehicle, especially as gas prices continue to rise and the clear push to move on from fossil fuels.

However, there are some concerns about EV infrastructure, battery life, charging times and our own strained home electrical system that are pushing us more toward getting a hybrid. Unfortunately, not all carmakers offer a hybrid option for certain models, much to my husband’s dismay. Plus, is a hybrid vehicle that much more efficient than its traditional counterpart? For some models, the answer is yes, but others require closer speculation. 

And then there’s the thought: What if we just wait another year (if my SUV can make it that long) to see what else comes on the market? What if, in a few years, the industry offers other alternatives we haven’t even considered yet? 

The auto and oil and gas industries are still evolving in the wake of climate-conscious buyers, but technology and infrastructure developments are still slow to adapt. Fortunately, the chemical industry is playing its part in helping speed up development

In fact, EV battery development isn’t the only space where the chemical industry plays a role in further automotive developments. The American Chemistry Council recently reported that compared to a decade ago, the average value of chemistry in a vehicle had increased by 31%. In addition, the amount of plastic and polymer composites is up more than 18% as automakers look to reduce the weight of vehicles to enhance fuel efficiency. 

And, in other recent news, AIChE appears to also be doing its part to drive developments with its Chem-E Car Competition. The contest brings together teams of engineering students across the United States and internationally to develop shoe-box-sized cars that run on a chemical reaction. Perhaps one day, their mini cars will lead to new breakthroughs in the search for alternative fuels. 

In the meantime, I’m hoping an answer to our conundrum will reveal itself soon. If anyone has any ideas on what our new fuel- and environmentally efficient car should be, I’d love to hear from you.

About the Author

Amanda Joshi | Managing Editor

Amanda Joshi has more than 18 years of experience in business-to-business publishing for both print and digital content. Before joining Chemical Processing, she worked with and Electrical Contracting Products. She’s a versatile, award-winning editor with experience in writing and editing technical content, executing marketing strategy, developing new products, attending industry events and developing customer relationships. 

Amanda graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2001 with a B.A. in English and has been an English teacher. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and daughter, and their mini Aussiedoodle, Riley. In her rare spare time, she enjoys reading, tackling DIY projects, and horseback riding.

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