Archive | Cars

Chevrolet Volt Makers Recycle Oil Spill Materials

The makers of the Chevrolet Volt electric car plan to take advantage of leftover cleanup materials from the BP oil spill.

General Motors announced last week that it intends to recycle 100 miles of boom, or plastic oil containment lines, for vehicle parts instead of going to landfills for materials.

More than 2,550 miles of boom were strung throughout the Gulf last April in an attempt to corral oil before it reached shore. According to AP, only one mile of the vinyl-coated polyester or nylon boom is in use today. Much of the rest was incinerated or sent to landfills.

“Creative recycling is one extension of GM’s overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact,” Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy, said in a statement. “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.”

GM will use the boom to make under-the-hood components of the current generation of Volts. The parts will deflect air around the vehicle’s radiator and will consist of 25 percent recycled boom plastic, 25 percent recycled tires, and 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastics.

The Chevrolet Volt can run about 35 miles on stored battery power before switching to a gasoline engine.

Posted in Cars, Energy, Oceans & Coastlines, Recycling, Reduce & Reuse0 Comments

Gas Prices Climb as Crude Oil Supplies Drop

With oil costs surging past $90 a barrel, gas prices climbed to an average of $3 a gallon this week, the highest estimate since October of 2008, reports said Wednesday.

Analysts with AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service said the national average for pump prices has skyrocketed 13 cents from a month ago. They expect filling stations to charge $3.50 a gallon or more by spring of 2011.

Benchmark oil climbed 43 cents to $90.25 in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as the government reported a shortage of the nation’s crude oil supplies. The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration announced that crude supplies declined 5.3 million barrels last week compared to the week before. The administration also noted that gasoline supplies increased by more than 2 million barrels.

Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report newsletter, says supplies are still fixed at over 10 percent above what they were from 2004 to 2008. “Traders should not be fooled by a big draw from today’s DOE data,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Also on the Nymex, heating oil gained 0.63 cent to $2.5227 a gallon, gasoline rose 1.11 cents at $2.4096 a gallon and natural gas dropped 3.9 cents at $4.020 per 1,000 cubic feet, AP reported.

Posted in Cars, Drilling for Oil0 Comments

Toxic Sludge in Hungary Highly Caustic

BUDAPEST, Hungary, Oct. 8 (UPI) — A toxic flood from a burst reservoir in Hungary is 1,000 times more caustic than dust at ground zero in the Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. terror attacks, scientists say.

A dam at an aluminum processing plant in western Hungary collapsed Monday, releasing a flood of toxic sludge that burned more than 120 people and killed at least five, ABC News reported. Other reports put the death toll at seven.

The mud that swamped homes, cars, roads and bridges contained byproducts from aluminum manufacturing, which uses caustic soda to turn bauxite, or aluminum ore, into lightweight metal.

The environmental group Greenpeace said Wednesday the pH level of a mud sample it took was 13 — a level more caustic than household bleach.

“A pH of 13 is about as caustic as it gets. This stuff will dissolve anything it touches,” Dr. Philip J. Landrigan at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said.

In comparison, Landrigan said, the dust produced by the collapse of the burning World Trade Center towers, “had a pH of 10 to 11 and wreaked havoc on workers’ lungs.”

The pH scale is logarithmic, Landrigan said, “so every unit increase on the scale means a 10-fold increase in alkalinity. So this stuff is 1,000 times more caustic than the 9/11 dust.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other0 Comments

Conservationists Oppose Laos Dam Plans

VIENTIANE, Laos, Sept. 24 (UPI) — Laos says it rejects calls for a dam moratorium on the Mekong River because it wants cheap power to develop its economy despite threats to fish habitats.

The Southeast Asian nation moved this week to secure regional approval for the first major hydropower plant on its stretch of the lower Mekong in the face of protests from international conservation groups, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

The country’s proposed hydropower plant threatens the habitat of the giant Mekong catfish, which can weigh up to 650 pounds, the newspaper said.

Catfish as long as small cars and stingrays that weigh more than tigers are threatened by the proposed 2,600-foot dam, but the government said the economic benefits outweigh the environmental risks.

“We don’t want to be poor anymore,” Viraphone Viravong, director general of the country’s energy and mines department, said. “If we want to grow, we need this dam.”

In a submission to the Mekong River Commission, Laos said it wants to build a hydropower plant at Sayabouly in northern Laos to generate foreign exchange income.

If approved, about 90 percent of the electricity would be sold to neighbors Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Sayabouly is the first of 11 proposed dams on the lower reaches of the Mekong, a river already heavily dammed upstream in China, the Guardian said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Conservation, Electricity, Fish, Other0 Comments

Consumer Preferences Could Be in Genes

PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 20 (UPI) — Genes might influence consumer behaviors and choices, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Florida studied the consumer preferences of twins to determine whether certain behaviors or traits have a genetic basis, an article published in the Journal of Consumer Research reports.

“A greater similarity in behavior or trait between identical than between fraternal twins indicates that the behavior or trait is likely to be heritable,” the article said.

The results, researchers say, suggest people seem to inherit tendencies to choose a compromise option and avoid extremes; select sure gains over gambles; prefer an easy but non-rewarding task over an enjoyable challenging one; look for the best option available; and prefer utilitarian, clearly needed options (like batteries) over more indulgent ones (gourmet chocolate).

The study found that likings for specific products — such as chocolate, mustard, hybrid cars, science fiction movies and jazz — seemed to be genetically related.

“We examine a wide range of consumer judgment and decision-making phenomenon and discover that many — though not all of them — are in fact heritable or influenced by genetic factors,” the article’s authors wrote.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other0 Comments

Aggressive, Timid Drivers Both Cause Jams

ATLANTA, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Aggressive drivers and those who drive too timidly are both causes of major traffic jams, U.S. researchers say.

While the immediate cause of a jam might be an accident or construction or drivers changing lanes on busy roads, it is how the drivers react in the cars behind that causes traffic to slow to a halt, Britain’s The Daily Telegraph reported.

Researches at the Georgia Institute of Technology say aggressive motorists who drive too fast and too close to the vehicle in front, or timid motorists who leave too big a gap, create a “wave of deceleration” backwards down the road until traffic grinds to a stop.

Jorge Laval at Georgia Tech found that when drivers changed their speed, they caused drivers further back to change theirs, and the change in speed passes like a wave backwards through the traffic.

Eddie Wilson, an expert on traffic modeling at Britain’s Bristol University, said: “The exact point at which a traffic jam starts is very difficult to measure as it often causes a wave that produces a jam 20 miles farther back.”

Timid drivers had the biggest impact because they “shied away” when the car in front started slowing down, and deliberately started driving even more slowly to increase the gap between them, researchers said.

Aggressive drivers also caused speed to drop because they braked hard at the last moment to avoid driving into the car in front, researchers said. They then had to drive more slowly to open up a space again.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other0 Comments

'Stop-start' System Coming to U.S. Cars

DETROIT, Sept. 18 (UPI) — A relatively simple and inexpensive fuel-saving technology from Europe will soon be introduced on vehicles in North America, engineers say.

So-called start-stop systems that turn off a car when it is idling and reignite the engine when the driver releases the brake will be coming to the United States and Canada in the next five years, The Detroit News reported.

The technology is widespread in Europe and will be embraced in North America as a tool to meet increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions requirements, auto experts say.

“Engineers kill for one-tenth of a mile per gallon,” Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. said. “In city driving, it would make a huge impact.”

Estimates vary, but the consensus is shutting off the engine at a stop can improve fuel economy as much as 15 percent.

Consumer acceptance could be a challenge.

“It is a strange sensation because the engine suddenly turns off,” said analyst Stephanie Brinley of EMC Strategic Communications in Troy, Mich. “It is quick and seamless, but you can tell it happens.”

Half of the new cars in Europe will have start-stop technology in 2012, and North America will reach that figure in 2016, said Frank Frister, product manager with Bosch North America, one of the companies developing stop-start systems.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other0 Comments

'Aware' Traffic Lights Could Stop Jams

SANTA FE, N.M., Sept. 17 (UPI) — Traffic jams could be reduced if traffic signals responded to cars and not the other way around, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Santa Fe Institute say the new approach would have traffic lights reacting in real time to traffic flow, rather than restricting drivers to the control of rigidly timed signals, Sciencenews.org reported Friday.

By measuring the flow of vehicles in and out of intersections and coordinating lights with only their nearest neighbors, a system-wide smoothness would emerge, the researchers say.

An ultimate goal in traffic flow principles is “the green wave,” the consecutive run of greens that allows groups of vehicles to move smoothly through intersection after intersection.

When that happens, no drivers have to wait very long and sections of road don’t become so filled with cars that there’s no room for entering vehicles when the light does go green.

Traffic lights usually operate on an “optimal” cycle that maximizes the flow of traffic expected for particular times of day, such as rush hour.

But even for a typical time on a typical day, variation in the number of cars at each light and the direction each car takes leaving an intersection can cause roads to back up, researchers say.

In the proposed system, two sensors at each intersection would measure incoming and outgoing traffic flow, and lights would be coordinated with every neighboring light, so that one light can alert the next, “Hey, heavy load coming through.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other0 Comments

'Roadkill' Project Aims to Help Wildlife

DAVIS, Calif., Sept. 14 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’re turning their attention to roadkill for a better understanding of the impact of the nation’s roads on wildlife and the environment.

Volunteers like retired veterinarian Ron Ringen, 69, are taking photographs of killed animals and using GPS devices to record the precise location for the study, The New York Times reported.

“I’m almost a fanatic with it,” Ringen said. “You get hooked.”

He’s among hundreds of volunteers collecting and uploading roadkill data to the California Roadkill Observation System, a mapping Web site built by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The aim is to better understand where and why cars strike animals.

“For some people the only contact they have with wild animals is when they run them over,” Fraser M. Shilling, lead researcher on the project, said. “This is the first time people have been able to record roadkill online and I think it will change our understanding of what our road system is really doing to wildlife.”

Researchers say they will use the data to build statistical models to predict roadkill hot spots and suggest where animal road crossings, culverts and warning signs would be most effective on current and future roadways, the Times said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Cars, Other0 Comments

Horizontal Space Launcher Eyed

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) — U.S. engineers say existing cutting-edge technologies, pushed forward, could provide the next space launch vehicle.

One proposal calls for a wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets — supersonic ramjets — to be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled, a NASA release said.

The aircraft would fly up to 7,600 mph using the scramjets and wings to lift it to the upper reaches of the atmosphere where a small payload canister or capsule similar to a rocket’s second stage would fire off the back of the aircraft and into orbit.

The aircraft would land on a runway by the launch site.

Such a system, with its advanced technologies, could benefit the nation’s high-tech industry by perfecting technologies that would make more efficient commuter rail systems, better batteries for cars and trucks and numerous other spinoffs, engineers say.

Nothing in the design, they say, calls for brand-new technology to be developed. However, the system counts on a number of existing technologies to be pushed forward.

“All of these are technology components that have already been developed or studied,” Stan Starr, branch chief of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center, said. “We’re just proposing to mature these technologies to a useful level, well past the level they’ve already been taken.”

NASA and universities have already done significant research in the field, including small-scale tracks at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and at Kennedy.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other0 Comments

No Posts in Category
Advertisement