Re “Unwanted Electronics Gear Rising in Toxic Piles” (front page, March 19):
As innovations in consumer electronics produce thinner, lighter televisions that use fewer materials and less energy than their cathode ray tube predecessors, our industry has decreased its collective environmental footprint.
In late 2011, our association and the Environmental Defense Fund co-sponsored the first-ever “C.R.T. Challenge,” a crowd-sourced technical challenge to find new uses for old C.R.T. glass.
The winning solutions from that challenge resulted in ideas for new processes for separating lead from glass for use in a variety of industries, using an energy-efficient, electrically heated furnace, and a new way to merge C.R.T. glass with cement to create tile and bricks for applications where lead shielding is required, like X-ray and fluoroscopy rooms.
Through the eCycling Leadership Initiative begun in 2010, manufacturers of consumer electronics have committed to recycling a billion pounds of consumer electronics responsibly by 2016.
In 2011 alone, these manufacturers spent more than $100 million to responsibly recycle more than 460 million pounds of old electronics.
Our commitment to producing better and more environmentally sensitive products has never been higher, nor has our industry’s commitment to innovative, responsible recycling solutions.
Arlington, Va., March 22, 2013
The writer is vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability at the Consumer Electronics Association.
Morgan Motor Company’s 1930s-retro 3-Wheelers are cool. Of that there’s little doubt. They’re light, fast and guaranteed conversation starters. But what if you took that same Morgan, made it look all futuristic and replaced its noisy V-twin motorcycle engine with a silent, powerful electric motor?
You’d get Epic Electric Vehicles’ Torq Roadster, which resembles an escape pod from a ’90s space movie and has an electric motor, carbon-fiber body and, yes, only one rear wheel. Like the Morgan 3-Wheeler, the Torq EV is basically a sporty toy for people who have extra money lying around. But it is a mean-looking little buggy. If you’re the sort of car-loving playboy who is into 3-wheeled cars (come on, you know you’re out there) and prefers “Star Trek: The Next Generation” machines to ones like those featured in Lawrence of Arabia, the Torq could be what you’re looking for.
David Vespremi, a former Tesla Motors executive, became Epic’s first customer in an official-looking handoff ceremony last month. Judging by his blog post on the subject, Mr. Vespremi is pretty amped on having a Torq, and said the electric 3-wheeler is nearly as quick off the line as a Tesla Roadster. Mr. Vespremi commended not only the Torq’s quickness, but also its silence — the electric drivetrain means he can sneak out of the house at dawn for “spirited driving” without waking his entire family with the roar he’d subjected them to with his 400-horsepower Toyota MR2.
Epic Electric Vehicles said in a news release that it would produce about 50 Torqs for 2013. Prices start at $65,000 in the United States. If you want to play, be prepared to pay a $10,000 deposit. The company is also taking $5,000 deposits for a 2014 model.
I wish I could say more about the car, but since I’ve neither seen it in person nor driven it, I’ll leave you with a kernel of utter nonsense (which seems in keeping with chatter about a 3-wheel electric roadster that costs more than a couple of average family sedans): I have to wonder if driving one feels more carlike, or more like one of those speeder bikes the Ewoks ride in “Return of the Jedi.”
Read the full article.
eaturing recyclable, plant-based materials and a regenerative braking system for improved fuel efficiency, this hybrid is the ultimate in greener driving.
2013 Lexus CT 200h. Photo courtesy of Lexus.
If you are in the market for a new car this holiday season and sustainability is important, take a look at the 2013 Lexus CT 200h Premium Hybrid Compact. According to Green Car Reports, “There wasn’t a lot wrong with the (2012) CT 200h, but Lexus has updated it for the 2013 model year with some small changes to ensure it remains competitive.”
The EPA rates the CT 200h for 43 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and an overall 42-mpg rating. As with the 2012 model, the 2013 CT 200h incorporates a drive-mode selector that allows the driver to toggle between four distinct modes: Normal, Sport, Eco or EV.
- The Normal mode gives the driver naturally progressive power.
- The Sport mode can be selected when the driver wants a more lively driving experience.
- The Eco mode adjusts air conditioning settings and the throttle response is reduced relative to the pedal angle to emphasize fuel economy.
- The EV mode allows the vehicle to be driven in its electric mode for as long as the battery lasts.
The interior of the 2013 Lexus CT 200h. Photo courtesy of Lexus.
Some updated features for 2013:
- The CT 200h’s regenerative braking system helps recharge the hybrid battery pack and improve fuel efficiency. An explanation of regenerative braking from the Lexus site: “During braking, coasting and deceleration, energy that would normally be lost as heat is captured as electrical energy, which is then used to recharge the battery.”
- The standard six-speaker audio system features the world’s first automotive speakers constructed with sustainable bamboo and resin.
- Ecological plastics with 30% plant-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials are used for the floor mats, deck side and deck board trim. The vehicle is more than 80% recyclable and is designed to be easily unassembled. The recycling symbol has been placed on the front, rear and tailgate trim to make recyclable parts as clear as possible.
- Careful aerodynamic detailing of the lower bumper and finned rear undercover improves both vehicle stability and fuel consumption.
The CT 200h also has an exhaust heat recovery system that captures the heat of spent exhaust gases to speed engine coolant warm-up and allows the hybrid system to stop the engine earlier and more often in the driving cycle when it is not needed (for example, during city driving, when the power demand is lower).
ARPA-E’s REACT program aims to develop the next generation of hybrid vehicles: electric motors without rare earths.
Baldor Electric Company’s rare-earth-free traction motor. Image via ARPA-E.
Hybrid cars’ efficiency and condensed fuel consumption are stellar examples of their positive impact on the environment. The lower the fuel intake, the fewer greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
But, The Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy team is trying to do one better: design electric motors that do not require the use of rare earth elements.
With the skyrocketing demand and depleting supply of REEs, the U.S. Department of Energy is exploring solutions to this increasingly growing concern. From the miniscule neodymium magnets that control a cell phone’s speaker, to the terbium-containing LCD screens of a computer monitor, these finite minerals power many of our electronics.
So, what does this mean for the way our society functions as the volume of REEs continues to dwindle? Recycling is a must. Finding alternatives is even more important.
In 2011, the ARPA-E began funding its Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies program to do just that. National companies and established research institutions comprise the 14 projects that are attempting to generate substitutes in two main areas: motors and wind generators.
Of the $27.5 million currently invested in REACT, about $8.7 million is being funneled into three separate projects tackling the electric motor design. Baldor Electric Company’s rare-earth-free traction motor is a lighter, less costly option than the common bulkier model used in today’s electric vehicles.
Similarly, the double-stator motor design the University of Texas at Dallas is fostering targets low-cost manufacturing, and the two stators’ composition will also allow the vehicle to drive in more ragged conditions and under harsher temperatures.
QM Power is experimenting with iron-based magnetic materials to provide torque to the wheels in its efficient, high-torque electric vehicle motor, while still being more cost efficient.
According to the ARPA-E’s website, the potential success of these unique electric motors will not only benefit the environment, but can also help boost the economy with the creation of thousands of jobs and bring energy security by relying on abundant materials.
Head here to learn more information about REACT’s projects and initiatives.
Starting in the third quarter Chrysler will offer a small diesel engine in its 2014 Ram 1500 pickup, the automaker has said.
That makes Chrysler the first automaker to offer a diesel in a light-duty pickup.
The 3-liter turbocharged V-6 will be paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine is being produced by VM Motori.
Later this year that EcoDiesel engine will be available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is rated at 240 horsepower at 3,600 revolutions per minute and 420 foot pounds of torque at 2,000 r.p.m. Chrysler made the announcement Friday.
Chrysler did not provide details including an estimate of fuel economy, the cost of the diesel and the trim levels to be available.
The news was first reported by USA Today.
A review of the 2013 Ram 1500 can be read here.
A new federal report released Wednesday painted a devastating portrait of how a battery supplier, LG Chem Michigan, handled a 2010 grant of more than $150 million in Recovery Act financing to build a battery cell plant. The report describes an idled company with workers using company time to volunteer for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, animal shelters and nature centers, to watch movies and to play board and video games. The company says that slower-than-expected electric vehicle sales are to blame.
The special report from the Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General grew out of a complaint last fall that the company was misusing its federal money. “We confirmed the allegations,” said a memo from Gregory H. Friedman, the inspector general, that accompanied the report. “We found that work performed under the grant to LG Chem Michigan had not been managed effectively.”
“The allegation that the department reimbursed LG Chem Michigan for labor costs that did not support the goals and objectives of the grant was substantiated,” he said.
The plant in Holland, Mich., has yet to “manufacture battery cells that could be used in electric vehicles sold to the public,” the memo said.
LG Chem Michigan has reimbursed the Energy Department for $842,000 in labor costs that the federal investigation found to be “unreasonable and unallowable,” the memo said. Some employees interviewed, the report said, admitted to volunteering for noncompany work from one to five days a week. “We leave it to each reader of the report to make their own judgment as to the significance of a $842,000 reimbursement,” the memo said.
LG Chem Michigan said in a statement that it had put reforms in place that would ensure that federal money would not be misused going forward. “LG Chem Michigan is acutely aware of the disappointment arising from the delays in our start of production,” the company said. “These market-driven delays have been very difficult for our team members, for our community and for our company.” The company said it was developing “specific plans” for starting production in Holland.
The Washington Post quoted LG Chem’s spokesman, Randy Boileau, as saying that LG Chem “has a significant interest in the long-term success of this facility.”
The company “is doing everything it can to find an economically viable way to get commercial production started here,” he said.
LG Chem has spent $142 million of its stimulus money, the report said. The company was to have begun by late this year producing enough battery cells annually to power 60,000 electric cars, the memo said, with assembly to have begun last year. Some 440 jobs were to be created. Among the report’s findings:
• Only about 60 percent of the production capacity laid out by LG Chem has been built, despite expenditure of 94 percent of the Energy Department’s share of the project financing.
• Production of cells did not move from South Korea to Michigan in 2012, as outlined in grant documentation. According to the report, LG Chem Michigan said this was because sufficient demand had not materialized for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which uses the company’s cells. The report admits that the slow pace of electric vehicle sales in the United States was “a significant factor” affecting the American plant. But it adds that demand for the Volt averaged 1,955 vehicles a month in 2012 and “that volume could have readily been produced by using the then built-out capacity of the Michigan plant.”
• Less than half the expected number of jobs have been created.
LG Chem Michigan also received a state grant and local tax breaks. This new report concludes that until the company begins production in Michigan or develops some alternative use for the plant, “U.S. taxpayers will receive little direct benefit from a plant for which they provided at least half of the funding.”
DETROIT — The North American International Anti-Auto Show, an art exhibition timed around the show at the Cobo Center, opens Friday night with a black-tie preview at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. Admission is $1 to the green carpet event, where anti-auto show girls will unveil some of the artwork from 14 artists highlighting alternative transportation-based themes.
“It’s not necessarily about one person and four wheels being bad,” said the show’s curator, Christina de Roos of Spread Art. “It’s about the environmental consequences of the automobile and the things that come from a heavy car culture.”
The work explores the nuances of mobility. The artist One DR contributed a skateboard painted with flying saucers in outer space. Vito Valdez’s oil painting depicts a buffalo crossing a railroad track as a small dinosaur looms in the background. Mavis Farr uses crushed vintage metal mini cars for her necklaces. “It’s about the auto industry’s absentee parent relationship with Detroit, and also about the mining, manufacture, sales and eventual discarding and decay of metals and gemstones,” Ms. Farr wrote in her artist statement.
Scooters and hippity hop balls will be used for a race staged at the preview. The Nyx, who have done bits as car salesmen, will present sketch performances at the preview, and the band Odd Hours is scheduled to perform.