• Dec 20th 2010 at 7:25PM
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Recycled boom material under the hood of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

There's really no way to positively spin the disaster that took place in the Gulf of Mexico when BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded and leaked untold millions of gallons of oil into the ocean. That said, it seems that General Motors has figured out a way to "creatively recycle" an estimated 100 miles of oil-soaked plastic boom material.

If not recycled, much of this material would likely have ended up in landfills, and we'd much rather see it reused under the hood of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt than buried under the ground to rot way over several lifetimes. Specifically, GM will mold radiator air deflectors from plastic that's made up of 25 percent recycled boom material and 25 percent recycled tires, with the remaining 50 percent "a mixture of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers."

Enough of the boom material has apparently been collected to fill GM's needs for these plastic parts over the Volt's entire first year of production, and it's likely that these recycling efforts will continue to other models in the automaker's portfolio. See the recycled boom material used in the Volt in our image gallery below, and check out a video along with the entire press release after the break.

Recycled boom material in the Chevrolet Volt
  • Recycled boom material in the Chevrolet Volt
  • Recycled boom material in the Chevrolet Volt

  • Recycled boom material in the Chevrolet Volt
  • Recycled boom material in the Chevrolet Volt

  • Recycled boom material in the Chevrolet Volt
  • John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction efforts, talks Monday, Dec. 20, 2010, during a press conference at Hamtramck Assembly. A used oil boom from the Gulf of Mexico sits in the foreground and the Volt parts made from the recycled materials are hanging behind him.

[Source: General Motors]

Show full PR text
Chevrolet Volt Components Created from Gulf of Mexico Oil-Soaked Booms
100,000 Pounds of Waste Saved from the Nation's Landfills


DETROIT – Oil-soaked plastic boom material used to soak up oil in the Gulf of Mexico is finding new life as auto parts in the Chevrolet Volt.

General Motors has developed a method to convert an estimated 100 miles of the material

off the Alabama and Louisiana coasts and keep it out of the nation's landfills. The ongoing project is expected to create enough plastic under hood parts to supply the first year production of the extended-range electric vehicle.

"Creative recycling is one extension of GM's overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy. "We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude."

Recycling the booms will result in the production of more than 100,000 pounds of plastic resin for the vehicle components, eliminating an equal amount of waste that would otherwise have been incinerated or sent to landfills.

The parts, which deflect air around the vehicle's radiator, are comprised of 25 percent boom material and 25 percent recycled tires from GM's Milford Proving Ground vehicle test facility. The remaining is a mixture of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers.

GM worked with several partners throughout the recovery and development processes. Heritage Environmental managed the collection of boom material along the Louisiana coast. Mobile Fluid Recovery stepped in next, using a massive high-speed drum that spun the booms until dry and eliminated all the absorbed oil and wastewater. Lucent Polymers used its process to then manipulate the material into the physical state necessary for plastic die-mold production. Tier-one supplier, GDC Inc., used its patented EndurapreneTM material process to combine the resin with other plastic compounds to produce the components.

The work in the Gulf is expected to last at least two more months and GM will continue to assist suppliers in collecting booms until the need no longer exists. The automaker anticipates enough material will be gathered that it can be used as components in other Chevrolet models.

"This was purely a matter of helping out," said John Bradburn, manager of GM's waste-reduction efforts. "If sent to a landfill, these materials would have taken hundreds of years to begin to break down, and we didn't want to see the spill further impact the environment. We knew we could identify a beneficial reuse of this material given our experience."

The world's first electric vehicle with extended range, the Chevy Volt was recently awarded Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.

GM is dedicated to reducing its waste and pollutants, and recycles materials at every state of the product lifecycle. It uses recycled and renewable materials in its cars and trucks, which are at least 85 percent recyclable. Used tires, old plastic bottles, denim and nylon carpet are all redirected from landfills and reused in select GM vehicles.

GM facilities worldwide recycle 90 percent of the waste they generate. The automaker recently announced more than half of its worldwide facilities are now landfill-free – all manufacturing waste is recycled or used to create energy.

About General Motors – General Motors Company (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Russia. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      So Green.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Awesome, makes the car even a little bit more green.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow, studemax, you smart.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Using your own numbers: 60,000 barrel per day x 47 gal per barrel = 2.82 million gallons per day.

        The moral of the story? never trust a screeching moron that hasn't mastered multiplication.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I smell some BS and over simplification in this statement from GM.
      BTW autoblog there might really be no way to positively spin the disaster that took place in the Gulf of Mexico, but it can certainly be exaggerated.
      My guess is in time this statement will be proved to be mostly fluff, but the sheep like fluff.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Alright I'll say it. If I'm spending 40k on a compact car from a manufacturer that just last year were at the bottom of the barrell, I better not have a single ounce of reused garbage for my car.

      Don't get me wrong, I use reusable bags for grocery shopping, walk when I can, and only order what I eat as the thought of waste bothers me a little. But for 40k dollars, I better have brand new gear in my ride.

      Then again I'd never spend that type of money on a small car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      so thats why it coast $ 200K + ..............XD
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good for the environment and lower costs to them (and maybe passed to buyers). GM is on its way back to the top.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, there will be an Accord that does what the Volt does, only with the same difference in quality most consumers on the planet expect Honda to have over a Chevy.

        But I greatly doubt the Volt is cheaper to drive than an Accord, even if you only commute 5 miles each day. Don't believe the hype. This is a GM product, and we know that means it was built by the people GM says sabotage their own products. Who in the world would trust their family to one of those cars?

        There are other great domestics. Ford is a lot better.

        Anyhow, you can get an Accord for so much less than the inferior Volt that you can buy many thousands of gallons of gasoline. And you will repair it so less often that you can afford even more gas. And you will replace it much later, at a much higher resale, so ... more gas and much better for the environment.

        that's why GM's argument is this *lie* that the oil boom was going to a landfill.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "an Accord... gets the same mileage when off battery"

        So the handful of times a year when you're on a road trip and you use the range extender, you get the same fuel economy as an Accord (this actually isn't true, as the Volt gets mid 30 mpgs combined and the Accord gets 25 combined), but 90% of the time, your fuel economy will kick the Accord's @$$?

        That's not a very compelling argument, now is it?

        I could pick at the rest of your arguments but it's not worth it. Bottom line is that the Volt is a good car and so is the Accord. Consumers will pick the one that best fits their needs/wants. For some that will be the Volt, and for some the Accord.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Why would they dump "whatever they want"? They'd be on the hook for all damages, not to mention public outcry. And they couldn't hide behind "limited liability".
        They're regulated now, and look at all the havoc. In fact, the worst part of the gulf oil spill was the cleanup. The same garbage they used on the Exxon Valdez almost guarantees to kill anyone who came into contact with it. All of this wonderful-ness... In the CURRENT system.
        Not sure I follow your lack of logic."

        Well the bond market lacks regulations, and look where that got us, read: The Big Short, your eyes will pop out.

        Government regulations are a good thing, no companies do not do what's best for us, they do what's best for them, in the short term, it's been proven again and again. Outcry is why we have regulations, people simply do not buy what's best for them, they buy what is cheapest, again in the short term, why else is pretty much everything Americans buy from China, the land of no regulation? I would bet most of the crap you buy comes from China, Vietnam, India, where regulations at the lackest, etc, so why do you care so little about their environment? Is it only yourself that you care about, how close to your home does it have to be before you care? That's the question in my mind. Do I care if Chevy dumps crap in to Detroit water, I don't live in Detroit, only poor people live there, right? So that makes it ok, well just as ok as it does for companies to dump it in China's water system.

        The thing is, you're right, IF people gave a crap, that would work out just fine, but welcome to the real world where humans don't think long term, they don't care about you, they have never met you, if you died in a coal mine getting us coal for our coal power plants, they wouldn't care, you'd just be another person that died in some coal mine half way around the world, like they do in china, getting coal in unregulated mining projects to make your widgets.That's why we have Unions, that's why there are government regulations. I don't like unions, but I love them compared to what came before unions, I don't LOVE regulation, but it's far better than the alternative. Americans wouldn't and didn't put up with lack of OSHA, unions, and other regulations, they got through the time where people were begging on the streets because they lost their arm in a factory, where children worked because of their small hands, like they do in china, I recommended you go there, and see if you can stomach it, I have and I cannot, Americans that lived in those conditions chose unions, dieing for the right to have them, they chose regulation. When the people that lived in that time were willing to pick up arms and die for those unions and those regulations what does that say?

        Also, if you do care about the environment please stop buying stuff from china, I have, it's not that hard, I try hard to put my money where my mouth is, buy products from my country first, and other countries, if needed, where they have regulations in place to keep workers safe, to protect their jobs, and their environment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Chevy Volt components to be built from Gulf of Mexico's oil-soaked booms"

        Score another SLICK way to be green on top of owning/driving a Chevy Volt...a part/s of history (albeit from a disaster) recycled under your hood.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I neglected to mention my overall point. Cars that last a long time are much better for the environment than any other cars.

        Most of the pollution involved with a car is not from emissions during driving, but rather from its production. Having a car last a long time is the key to thinking green.

        Let's see this Volt outlive that 13 year old Accord I just mentioned. I bet it can't.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I admire the clever PR, and it's a good use of the booms, but they were always going to be turned into base material. Don't let anyone fool you otherwise. The Press Release might say they were on their way to a landfill, and some blogs might dutifully repeat that, but it's untrue.

        You're as likely to get material based on BP disaster oil if you buy an Accord, which is cheaper than a Volt, bigger, faster, better handling, more reliable, and gets the same mileage when off battery. And it doesn't run on coal, nor did your grandkids have to pay for it with subsidy.

        If GM's on the way back to the top, I'm happy for them, but this looks like more of the window dressing crap they sold for the Vega, built at the same plant as the Cruze (volt's sister car), where GM used to note the employees were sabotaging cars if they weren't happy with pay.

        I will never trust my family to a car built by people who don't take pride in their work. The last time my family was stranded was in a Chevy, and it's been 13 years since then (when we got a 1997 Accord that is still in the family and has never had a breakdown).
        • 4 Years Ago
        a positive for the environment, excellent PR, but lowering cost is unlikely. Getting rid of Unions is the best way to lower cost.

        For those of you who care about the environment that much, the amount of plastic bottles and trash that illegal aliens from Mexico dump in the desert while crossing over does more harm to the environment than the oil boons.

        Maybe GM could build parts of volt from the plastic bottles loitered by illegal aliens there.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To add to my moral tirade a bit, if people did look in to every product they buy from every company and see what they do to protect the environment, wherever it's manufactured, that would be AMAZING, but can you seriously tell me you think people do that now, let alone if there were no regulations?

        The lack of regulation isn't suddenly going to make consumers do more research.....

        Ok, I'm done.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dustin, are you seriously asking us to compare the GM of today with the GM which built the Vega of 35 years ago?

        Hey, let's go back another 35 years for my rant now:

        OMG!! You're pushing Jap cars when they just bombed Pearl Harbor!! How can you do this you traitor!!

        There. My rant is exactly as relevant to today's cars as your rant.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "oil is removed by spinning them in a centrifuge"

      err...and then the oil goes into a landfill?
        • 4 Years Ago
        No. It is cleaned and then recycled itself. I believe they use it in heating buildings that use oil heating systems.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No. To quote 'The Graduate': Plastics.
      • 4 Years Ago
      why do trashy propaganda with brain wash institutional voice like videos gets auto-play when this page is loaded and even goes on an infinite loop of replays.

      But fantastic awesome videos like the one with a Chinese taxi driver always occasionally have a problem with loading its video?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Heh, i would say this is a good thing except this car still uses oil. And as we get more and more desperate for oil, we'll do more desperate things ( such as drilling 8000 miles deep ) to get it, resulting in even more disasters as such.

      And to top it off, when the gas engine turns on in the Volt, it pollutes worse than a lot of regular gas cars - it's a LEV, and a bad one at that.


      Oh well, good job fooling those who are not skeptical.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "But everyone else is one step ahead, as always."

        I don't see how that's the case when the concept of the electric car has been around for years (and I'm talking the early years of the motor vehicle). The idea of mass produced EVs has always been limited by cost, battery life and infrastructure.

        What GM has done here is what we in the industry like to call "innovation." It's a word, look it up if you must. They've done something no one has done, and have done it in a way that makes if far more viable as a daily driver than any vehicle on the road...and the only vehicle you'd need no matter what your driving habits. Efficiency and cost of ownership are largely in the owner's hands. In that respect, I think they are far ahead of the curve...one step ahead if you will.

        I, for one, can't wait to see where the technology goes. As a bridge to fully electric, it gets the job done in spades.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And that should have been, "far more viable as a daily driver than any EV on the road today."
        • 4 Years Ago
        You didn't even read your own link. Its a ULEV, not LEV.

        And I don't get how it's a bad one. It's far better than required in two categories.

        This car can use gas, and in other cases it doesn't. I don't see how that's a terrible thing. Don't let a standard of perfection keep you from appreciating incremental improvements.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're right. It's ULEV. My bad.

        It still pollutes more than many gasoline cars with larger engines. You were in this debate and you saw the numbers - showing that the Volt pollutes more than most large 4 cylinder engines, even though it has a small 1.4l. Hell, it puts out more CO2 than a WRX STI.

        Everyone else, see the numbers for yourself. Read this thread:


        As far as 'appreciating incremental improvements', sorry, i don't, but that explains why you always step in to defend GM; you like small incremental improvements in technology, nothing that's 'too out there'.

        I know what's possible now and GM is not delivering it. They're selling a hybrid with mediocre fuel economy, high emissions for it's class, and low electric range and calling it an electric car.

        That's some BS. Especially when everyone else is looking to dive into the new waters rather than dip their toes into it like GM is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes. When the engine is running the Volt pollutes more in two categories than a significant percentage of vehicles on the road.

        More CO2 than a WRX STI? CO2 is primary emission, not trace emission. It is directly proportional to fuel consumed. And the Volt, even when burning gas, gets better mpg than a WRX STI. So no, it doesn't put out more CO2 than a WRX STI.

        You mean CO. And yes, when the engine is running it puts out more CO than a WRX STI, about 15% more. It also puts out about 120% more unburned hydrocarbons. On the other hand, it puts out only 1/2 to 2/3rds as much NOx. And that makes the Volt a ULEV, while the WRX STI is a LEV. So what exactly is your point?

        Mediocre improvements? The car can be driven on a normal day with ZERO gas. This is not a mediocre improvement. It's a 100% reduction. There are only two other mainstream cars that can do this and one of them costs $120,000.

        A normal distance for a person to drive in a year is about 12,000 miles. This is 33 miles a day. So that means most owners will have a significant number of days they can drive this car with no gas at all. This is a good thing.

        And they're calling it an EREV, not an EV.

        Everyone else dive into new waters? You mean like BMW with the BMW MINI E? Like Mercedes who are going to order a whopping 500 battery packs for electric A classes? What we need is real change. We don't need symbols that won't be produced in numbers large enough to make an impact or that are priced at $100,000 where people can't afford them.

        A vehicle that people can afford and use to cut their gas use way down is a big advance. And this is that.

        I'm with you, I can't wait to see what comes next. Will we see widespread EVs beyond the Leaf? I sure hope so. If only so I can get one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "The car can be driven on a normal day with ZERO gas."

        I heard electric cars can do that too. And they don't have to burn gas in the gas tank to prevent it from getting stale either. Pretty cool ;)

        "A normal distance for a person to drive in a year is about 12,000 miles. This is 33 miles a day."

        Great, so an EV would be the best option for this choice. And a real hybrid like a Prius or Insight for long trips.

        "And they're calling it an EREV, not an EV."

        If you look through past GM propaganda, you will see them calling it an electric car again and again.

        ^-- For example, remember the 'Volt Dance'?

        "Everyone else dive into new waters? You mean like BMW with the BMW MINI E? Like Mercedes who are going to order a whopping 500 battery packs for electric A classes?"

        I know you read autobloggreen and comment on there. Ford, Mitsubishi, Honda, Volvo, Toyota, and i think even Hyundai have EV's planned for commercial release in the next 2 years. Don't give me that line. You know better.

        "A vehicle that people can afford and use to cut their gas use way down is a big advance. And this is that."

        You must be talking about the Nissan Leaf, which cost $9k less and probably even uses less electricity as well, as it is lighter, more aerodynamic, and has a far less complex drivetrain... saving you even more $.

        We all want to see what comes next. I'll admit, something with batteries is a nice advance from GM; the company that sold the NiMH patent to Texaco.

        But everyone else is one step ahead, as always.

        What i don't get is that GM will sell a full electric car in Asia but not here. It boggles my mind even further.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I don't see how that's the case when the concept of the electric car has been around for years (and I'm talking the early years of the motor vehicle). The idea of mass produced EVs has always been limited by cost, battery life and infrastructure."

        Yes, but it isn't a limited idea anymore. Every other company is looking at selling a pure EV. Even Dodge danced around the idea. An EV is financially viable now, and why GM isn't selling one is beyond me.

        Yes, the Volt itself, as a package, is innovative. More innovative than an ordinary EV, however this innovation has gone in the wrong direction. I think you've all heard my arguments, so i won't repeat them. Summary: an expensive hybrid should be efficient, and this car is not. There are many more key ways in which it could be vastly more efficient, and GM put those improvements on the cutting board.
      So, how\'s life?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great, even more liberal suck-up points for GM. That said though... these suck-up points will probably spell GM's comeback.
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