Prius More polluting answer

Thanx for answering my question. I have done some of my own research on the topic and another pundit says even if it were more polluting (which Cecil proved it was not) the batteries can be effectively recycled (or rather the metals within them) and the net effect is much more positive on the environment. True?

Jim Cummings

Hi and welcome Jim. Just so everyone can see the column in question, here’s the link: Are electric cars really more energy efficient? Do “green” vehicles have a worse impact on the environment than a Hummer?

I love the follow up question Jim. I have heard from many people that the batteries are a problem in landfills. I found this online. Hope it helps answer the question. Looks like batteries can be salvaged and recycled.

http://www.epa.gov/garbage/battery.htm

  1. The batteries are supposed to be recycled. You pre-pay that ‘disposal fee’ when you buy the car to guarantee ahead of time that the batteries will be properly disposed of.

  2. If one cell goes bad, the entire bank of batteries does not have to be replaced. The battery pack is like a bunch of D cells spot welded together in tubes that are wired together. You can replace a ‘bad’ segment of the battery.

  3. From all reports I’ve read, the batteries do usually last quite a long time. I’d rather have ultracapacitors, myself.

What’s a bit annoying is, Honda had the Civic VX and HX models up until a couple of years ago, and these had a slightly bigger version of the ‘Lean Burn’ engine they stuck in their hybrid. I managed to get up to and around 50MPG consistently in my HX (but usually disappointingly around 48MPG), and it had very clean emissions. Not a hybrid. Just good engine technology. Yes, I drove it a certain way to get that mileage, and I kept meticulous track of my fuel consumption. It’s all in conservation of momentum, and pacing and predicting traffic signals. Learn to vastly expand the number of places you can leave the manual transmission in neutral, make sure the tires are properly inflated (maybe just a PSI or two extra to reduce rolling friction), and take it easy on the accelerator. I learned that it’s quite relaxing to put along at 55 or 60MPH in the right land of the freeway and just watch the onramps. It’s like the whole road is my own. Everybody just blasts past at 70 and 80, but I never get blocked by anybody. Nobody ‘runs me over’. They just go around. It was sort of nice to be able to go from Florida to California on six 12 gallon tanks of gas, and I passed stations in Needles selling gas at $4/gallon.

What was extremely disappointing was the hack job Penn & Teller did on the Prius on their ‘Bullsh**’ TV show. I like the show, but sometimes their commentary was just off by miles. They took a Prius which is a great little commuter car and tried to show it was ‘worthless’ by attempting to fill it up with crap like a mini-van and taking it on a long, long highway road-trip, basically negating the best mileage improvement it was capable of in stop-and-go traffic.

That was on their “The Energy Crisis is Bullshit!” episode. They established that a Prius is neither a van nor a sports car, and said it had slow acceleration because “it has two drive trains to haul”. This was one of their stupider episodes (their conclusion was that there’s no future energy shortage because all we have to do is build dozens of nuclear power plants).

I’m really glad Cecil did this column. I’ve been wondering about this stuff ever since it came up on an episode of “Boston Legal”. I’m shocked to find that the eccentric, sexually promiscuous fictional lawyers on that show might have gotten a fact wrong.

The problem isn’t if the batteries can be recycled, it’s how they’re being recycled. Presently, common practice for electronics is to ship the most hazardous parts overseas for recycling, which means that the work is often being done by children in unsafe manners. Were global warming not so prevalent in the news, ewaste (as it’s called) would be the top environmental news story, as the toxins spread not only to the workers, but the local environment, which contaminates food and water (and often that food is exported to other countries like the US).

I love this whole “batteries are tremendously dirty” point because it makes you think… “wait a minute… a few pounds of batteries under the hood are worse than the tons of CO2 i’m saving? isn’t CO2 so important?”

People have so forgotten about real forms of pollution, but yes. Batteries are actually dirty while CO2 is just vaguely warm. With our skies free of sulphur and our ozone undepleted by CFCs, we make such a big deal of the current battle that we forget the context of the war.

The article comments how a different report doesn’t contain any technical references but this article throws out very specific numbers and lacks to say where they are from. Since someone else did the research, it would be great to refer to this article when arguing for hybrids, but I don’t see how one could rely on what Jim wrote until there are references.

And since I’m new to the message board, perhaps I just didn’t click on something I was suppose to. If so, could someone tell me where to go to see the references?

Are P & T right wingers? I find the former especially insufferable. In any event give me Jamie and Adam any day of the week.

That is almost poetry, but this:

…is just plain nonsense.

Just thought I’d note that Brad DeLong picked up on this column:

Much of the ado seems to stem from rumors that the hybrid batteries will not last long. And the cost of creation of the batteries coupled with their less than stellar lifetime will the issue.

Yet, if you dig a little deeper this does not appear to be the case. Talking to a few engineers who no longer work for Toyota - even they are not negative on the battery lifetimes.

See one reference below:

I’d say they’re libertarians, at least when it comes to social issues. Their “Bullshit!” show is occasionally great, often far too simplistic. But they believe strongly in gratuitous nudity, so that’s good.