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Call it poetic justice...
December 20, 2010 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Oil-absorbing booms from the BP oil spill are being recycled into plastic parts for the (now in production and delivered to customers) extended-range EV Chevy Volt.
posted by SirOmega (23 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
♪ It's the circle of life products
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle marketplace
The Circle of life products
posted by filthy light thief at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that's nice, but I'm still not buying one of those things, thanks!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:48 AM on December 20, 2010


Is there some reason that they can't just store these things after cleaning them? There should be a massive stockpile of enough boom to cover the majority of the Gulf coast.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:54 AM on December 20, 2010


It's wrong to think that the Chevy Volt, or any other efficient technology, will cut carbon emissions in the short term. Without legislative action, any reduction in demand for fossil fuels will mean that prices drop and amoral industry burns more to make up the difference.

Environmentally-conscious people should buy Chevy Volt and other fuel-efficient technologies in order to encourage development of even better and cheaper fuel-efficient technologies, and eventually provide a situation where industry regards fossil fuels as inessential, and where legislative regulation of emissions becomes politically feasible.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:01 AM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


It seems like every morning, I hear the NPR promo for the Chevy Volt, with its tagline "More CAR than electric." Which instantly reassembles itself in my mind to "Chevy Volt: Don't be such a pussy," which is what it's really saying. And makes me sort of hate them.
posted by rusty at 10:05 AM on December 20, 2010


I hoped they would go with "Chevy Volt: The next bailout could be for gas stations."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]



Which instantly reassembles itself in my mind to "Chevy Volt: Don't be such a pussy," which is what it's really saying. And makes me sort of hate them.


You're in good company.

Motortrend responds.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:10 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


rusty: American car companies still haven't gotten it through their heads that there is a large, large number of people in this country who will buy an economical fuel efficient car that won't impress anyone with its ability to race at high speeds. The difference between branding and intent with the Volt vs the Nissan Leaf is stark. I think there is a place for both things in the marketplace, but the U.S. companies had better start work on an affordable electric car for the green conscious (or just wallet conscious) consumer ASAP if they aren't already, or they'll end up back in bankruptcy once again someday.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2010


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: To clarify, I hate that ad campaign. I have no opinion about the car, aside from wondering why they're trying to sell it (to NPR listeners, of all people!) as not really an electric car. Like haveanicesummer points out, lots of people want a really and truly electric car, and they want it to have big-ass graphics on it that say "HAY THIS IS AN ELECTRIC CAR ALL UP IN HERE AND IT USES ELECTRICITY INSTEAD OF GAS CAUSE WE LOVE IT LIKE THAT!" and stuff. I mean... the fact that it's electric is (am I wrong?) the one and only reason anyone would buy a Chevy Volt ever. Why is that so bashfully de-emphasized in the ads, like it was car-herpes?
posted by rusty at 10:22 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there some reason that they can't just store these things after cleaning them?

My understanding is that the soiled parts need to be cleaned of oil and sand and organic matter before the plastic can be reused. This isn't practical with the assembled booms. It's easier to take them apart and clean the components individually.

There are storage issues too. There is no space to store large quantities of boom in the long term.

The usual model for spill preparedness is to have enough on hand to deal with a small to medium-sized spill. If more is needed during the spill, as was true after the first day or so of the Gulf spill, then the boom companies produce and ship it on demand. It's efficient in terms of storage space, cost of inventory and flexibility. This produce-as-needed method normally works OK. Booms (and sorbents) can usually be produced quickly enough and in sufficient volume that the responders don't run short of materials.

The MC-252 release was so huge that, within days, it overwhelmed not only the ability of the boom producers to manufacture the booms, but also the suppliers of the plastics to make the booms.

So as a result of 90 days of spills, each day of which was a larger oil spill than the US with in a typical year, there's an enormous amount of oily waste that has to be dealt with. Finding clever ways to do that is a really good thing. In the past, I've seen propylene booms used as cheap waste fuel for cement plants and the like. It's great that there are better uses of soiled booms and sorbents than just burning it.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2010


I understood the slogan to be expressing that the car has an occasionally-used gas engine, and therefore an extended range compared to other EVs. This is the main selling point of the car, and I think it's a good slogan.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:28 AM on December 20, 2010


East Manitoba and so forth: Yeah, I got that association too, but shouldn't it be "more electric than car" in that case?
posted by rusty at 10:33 AM on December 20, 2010


Without legislative action, any reduction in demand for fossil fuels will mean that prices drop rise less quickly and amoral industry burns more to make up the difference has less incentive to improve as rapidly.

Tehnological advanaces like the Volt may slow the rate at which the price of gas increases, but barring another turn towards global recession, it will continue to increase.
And it seems to me that a good hedge against increasing gas prices is... to buy a Volt. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:49 AM on December 20, 2010


electric cars: we don't burn fossil fuels to run them, we burn fossil fuels to charge them.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:49 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean... the fact that it's electric is (am I wrong?) the one and only reason anyone would buy a Chevy Volt ever. Why is that so bashfully de-emphasized in the ads, like it was car-herpes?

Yes its electric, with the gas backup.

They're trying a few things with that ad campaign.

1. Distance themselves from the EV1 and its electric-only range and negative perception.

2. Emphasize that you don't have to change your lifestyle to fit the car. If there is one thing Americans have become lately is resentful of and cynical to someone telling them to change (for the better or worse).

3. Get you curious about the Volt and get you in to the dealership, where you buy some other car (because there are only 12,000 Volts available for 2010 and 2011). Essentially a halo car like the iPod had a halo effect to buying Macs.

We'll see if they're successful. GM's biggest issue for the next 3 years isn't the advertising campaign, its getting costs down significantly. I don't buy that each car is being sold for a loss, rather at cost w/o any recouping of R&D or other infrastructure costs beyond just the workers and plant management. Getting costs down significantly (to where a Volt is only a $3,000 more than a comparable Prius) will be key to making the Volt successful medium term.

Part of that will happen naturally with battery costs (which have been going down significantly in the past 3 years, from $1000/kWh in 2008 to about $650/kWh in early 2011 and look to continue to $400/kWh in mid 2012). For the Volt that's $4,000 in battery costs cut alone between now and mid 2012. The other part has to come from removing the belt-and-suspenders engineering approach GM took to get this vehicle done in 4 years.
posted by SirOmega at 10:50 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


we burn fossil fuels to charge them.

Yes, but far less of them, from what I understand. The battery technology is a more efficient delivery mechanism for fossil fuel generated power. Combustion energies are extremely wasteful of potential energy in implementation; electric cars much less so. I've heard it claimed that it will cost roughly $30 per month extra, on average, to fuel the Volt for a month's worth of ordinary commuter use. That's pretty damn cheap, too. And the thing has more than enough range for most people's daily, routine commuting needs. It might not be a panacea, but I can't help thinking the Volt, no matter how ham-fistedly it may be marketed, is a good thing.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:53 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


erm, "combustion energies engines"
posted by saulgoodman at 10:55 AM on December 20, 2010


electric cars: we don't burn fossil fuels to run them, we burn fossil fuels to charge them.

Some people do, but even then it only takes a fraction of the fossil fuel to send a car from A to B on fossil-fuel-electricity than it does if you put the same amount of fuel directly in the fuel-tank of a car and have to use its ridiculous little combustion engine.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:57 AM on December 20, 2010


I guess post-bailout GM couldn't afford to license It's Electric for their ads. Because that's the way I would have gone.
posted by Eideteker at 10:58 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, but far less of them, from what I understand.

Sort of... its complicated.

A lot has to do with where you are in the US. If you're in Illinois then you're net CO2 is lower because your power is primarily nuclear. If you're in Utah then its primarily coal, and your CO2 is only slightly lower (and other particulates are MORE than a car). If you're power is from natural gas then your CO2 is lower as well.

And all that can depend on when you plug in and charge throughout the day (daytime might be more or less CO2 intensive than night time charging).
posted by SirOmega at 11:12 AM on December 20, 2010


we burn fossil fuels to charge them.

Apart from the far greater efficiency, the pollution of burning of fossil fuels at some power plants are able to be mitigated by capture technology far better than that which exists on roving automobiles.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess post-bailout GM couldn't afford to license It's Electric for their ads. Because that's the way I would have gone.

Leila K to the rescue
posted by Anything at 2:55 PM on December 20, 2010


quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon writes "electric cars: we don't burn fossil fuels to run them, we burn fossil fuels to charge them."

Some places. Something like 90+% of the electricity used in BC comes from renewable resources. I imagine Quebec is the same.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2010


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