Chevy Volt Uses Oil Spill Plastics

DN Staff

December 22, 2010

2 Min Read
Chevy Volt Uses Oil Spill Plastics

Under-the-hoodair deflectors in the new ChevyVolt are being made in part from discarded plastic boom material used tosoak up oil in the Gulf of Mexico earlierthis year.

Development ofthe innovative recycling process will result in the production of more than100,000 lb of polypropylene that would otherwise have gone into the wastestream.

Click here for larger image.

"Creativerecycling is one extension of GM's overall strategy to reduce its environmentalimpact," says Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy andSafety policy. "We reuse and recyclematerial by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is agood example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude."

The parts,which deflect air around the Volt's radiator, are made of 25 percent boom wasteand 25 percent recycled tires from GM's Milford Proving Ground vehicle testfacility. A mixture of recycled plastics and other polymers make up theremainder.
Severalpartners participated in the project, particularly GDCInc., a materials' supplier and molder based in Goshen, IN. GDC is able to cross link the polypropylenewaste with rubber in a patented process called Enduraprene. The compoundcreated from the process is described as an engineered elastomer. The result ismaterial with superior properties than compounds that are just filled withrubber particles.

Otherpartners in the process include:

  • Heritage Environmental, which managed the collection of boom material along the Louisiana coast;

  • Mobile Fluid Recover, which used a high-speed drum to spin the booms until dry, eliminating absorbed oil and wastewater; and

  • Lucent Polymers, which processed the material into the physical state necessary for plastic die-mold production.

Processingof the boom material is expected to last through February, providing enough materialfor the Volt and other current-year GM models.

"This waspurely a matter of helping out," says John Bradburn, manager of GM'swaste-reduction efforts. "If sent to a landfill, these materials would havetaken hundreds of years to begin to break down, and we didn't want to see thespill further impact the environment. We knew we could identify a beneficialreuse of this material given our experience."

The recycledplastic from the Gulf oil spill adds to the Volt's environmental story. The Voltis described by GM as the world's first electric vehicle with extended range.

To learnmore about the recycled oil-soaked plastic boom material watch GM's video, "From the Gulf Spill to theRoadway."

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