The Chevrolet Volt’s environmental and patriotic credentials have stepped up another gear in the US, with parent company General Motors announcing the vehicle will feature recycled components used to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
GM will take more than 100 miles of oil-soaked plastic boom material used off the coast of Alabama and Louisiana and produce parts that will deflect air around the Volt’s radiator.
More than 45 tonnes of plastic resin will be recovered by recycling the booms, which GM says will be enough to supply the first year of production of the EV.
Almost five million barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico over three months after an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April.
According to GM, without the resourcefulness of its engineers and others collaborating on the project, the material would have either ended up in landfill where it would take hundreds of years to break down or be incinerated.
The process is a complex one, with many partners involved. Heritage Environmental was responsible for collecting the booms from the coast, Mobile Fluid Recovery spun the material in high-speed drums to dry them, Lucent Polymers prepared the material for plastic die-mold production and GDC Inc combined the resin with other plastics to produce the components.
On a global scale, GM facilities recycle around 90 percent of the waste they generate, creating either new components or energy for the plants.
As well as using recycled materials, GM says the vehicles themselves are on average 85 percent recyclable.