A recent study performed by University of Texas researchers shows the advantages of using plug-in hybrid vehicles such as the upcoming Prius over the ozone. The scenario in which the ozone layer is badly affected by pollution is already well documented, but the basics fact is that the gas is formed when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides react with sunlight. For humans, though, breathing ozone in high quantities can be damaging for health by causing respiratory problems.
Vehicles and power plants are the biggest ozone emitters in the US, with some areas being badly affected even after 30 years since air quality regulations have been put in place.
The study demonstrated how replacing about 20% of petrol-powered vehicles with plug-in electric vehicles by 2018 in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio could impact air quality positively. It’s also been shown that charging the car during the night doesn’t significantly reduce the ozone formation.
“Ozone levels drop during the night because sunlight drives the production of ozone,” said Tammy Thompson, the lead researcher. “But Texas has more installed wind power than any other state and that wind blows strongly at night, which opens up the prospects for emissions-free charging of some portion of electric vehicles.”
Thompson also warns that “it is going to take a lot more than just a few PHEVs to significantly change the ozone levels over Texas for the better,” at the air pollution level now existing in the state.