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Is this where the nickel from Prius comes from?

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by jaguaraja, Jan 25, 2007.

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  1. jaguaraja

    jaguaraja New Member

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    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/arti...in_page_id=1770


    Toyota factory turns landscape to arid wilderness
    By MARTIN DELGADO, Mail on Sunday - More by this author » Last updated at 22:36pm on 18th November 2006

    Comments Comments (9)
    The 'green-living' Toyota Prius has become the ultimate statement for those seeking to stress their commitment to the environment.

    However, the environment-saving credentials of the cars are seriously undermined by the disclosure that one of the car's essential components is produced at a factory that has created devastation likened to the arid environment of the moon.

    So many plants and trees around the factory at Sudbury in Ontario, Canada, have died that astronauts from Nasa practised driving moon buggies on the outskirts of the city because it was considered the closest thing on earth to the rocky lunar landscape.

    Unlike normal cars, hybrids such as the Prius, whose proud owners include Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and ex-Tory leader Michael Howard, are powered by a battery that contains nickel - as well as a traditional petrol engine.

    Toyota gets the metal from a Canadian company whose smelting facility at Sudbury has spewed sulphur dioxide into the air for more than a century.

    The car giant buys about 1,000 tons a year from the plant, which is owned by Inco, one of the world's largest nickel-mining companies.

    Fumes emerging from the factory are so poisonous that they have destroyed vegetation in the surrounding countryside, turning the once-beautiful landscape into the bare, rocky terrain astronauts might expect to find in outer space.

    Although efforts have been made in recent years to reduce emissions from the plant's 1,250ft chimney - dubbed the Superstack - campaigners say the factory is still respon-sible for some of the worst pollution in North America.

    David Martin, energy co-ordinator of Greenpeace Canada, said: "The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside.

    "The solution they came up with was the Superstack. The idea was to dilute the pollution, but all it did was spread the fallout right across northern Ontario. Things improved in the Nineties but the plant is still responsible for large-scale emissions of sulphur dioxide.

    "Sudbury remains a major environmental and health problem. The environmental cost of producing that car battery is pretty high."

    Once the nickel is smelted it is sent 10,000 miles on a container ship journey which in itself consumes vast quantities of fuel and energy.

    First it is shipped to Europe's biggest nickel refinery at Clydach near Swansea, South Wales. From there it is transported to the Chinese cities of Dalian and Shenyang to be turned into a lightweight substance called nickel foam.

    The final stage of the manufacturing process takes place in Japan where the Prius batteries are made.

    Toyota produced nearly 180,000 Prius cars last year, some 4,000 of which were sold in Britain. Last week 14 MPs from all parties claimed they had exchanged their petrol-guzzling vehicles for a Prius or similar hybrid.

    But some experts doubt whether the Prius even wins the argument over fuel consumption.

    Robert Fowler, of the Battery Vehicle Association, said: "It is questionable whether it does any more miles to the gallon than a good diesel.

    "The hybrid system has a very small battery so most of the time it's operating as a petrol car, particularly out of town and above 30mph."

    A Toyota spokesman said last night: "I cannot confirm the source of the nickel used in the Prius battery. It is true there is a slight increase in the energy required to produce the materials for the car."
  2. chogan

    chogan New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jaguaraja @ Jan 25 2007, 01:00 PM) [snapback]380659[/snapback]</div>

    There are at least two prior threads here that discussed this thoroughly. Search for them if you want detailes. For several excellent reasons, there's no merit in blaming Toyota for the Sudbury nickel smelter. Among them: a smelters's been there for more than a century, Toyota doesn't own it or run it, Toyota's purchases from them are a minscule fraction of Sudbury's output, all cars use nickel (in alloys such as stainless steel and elsewhere) and it's not clear that the extra 22 lbs of nickel in the Prius NIMH batteries mean that the Prius in fact uses more nickel than (say) the average SUV. In short, the article is without merit.
  3. naterprius

    naterprius Senior Member

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    Toyota doesn't buy nickel from this plant. The headline is a lie.

    Nate
  4. creamer

    creamer New Member

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    My favorite part is the bit about NASA practicing driving moon buggies there.

    NASA's Apollo landings: around 1969-1972
    Prius: around 1997

    And yet, the Prius is somehow the scapegoat for damage that took place three decades beforehand, if not a century....
  5. Pinto Girl

    Pinto Girl New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Snooze Button @ Jan 25 2007, 04:26 PM) [snapback]380803[/snapback]</div>

    No good deed goes unpunished.
  6. MegansPrius

    MegansPrius GoogleMeister, AKA bongokitty

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    And no comment pointing any of this out gets posted on that website under the article. Several of us have tried.
  7. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    A load of bollocks as everyone here has pointed out. The title of this "article" should indicate the level of journalistic integrity that went into producing it. <_<
  8. IsrAmeriPrius

    IsrAmeriPrius Progressive Member

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  9. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Member

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    While Toyota isn't to blame for the century of pollution coming from this plant, it is amazing how fast people (on this site) are willing to give Toyota a pass for purchasing form this company. Or they outright deny that toyota has done so.

    The REAL reason the EV1 was killed was the battery! Both the technology and the environmental impact of the production and disposal of the battery pack are devastating to the environment. The production of 1 EV1 released more than 9 times the amount of lead into the environment than driving a car on leaded gasoline for 9 years.

    The EV1's were leases becasue the government, and GM, did not trust that when the cars reached the ends of their lifespans that they would be dispposed of properly!

    Granted what this really means is that these industries that provide the exotic materials (or not so exoitic) need to clean up their acts too. A pass to a dirty industry producing a product for a "clen" purpose is not the way to move forward.
  10. MegansPrius

    MegansPrius GoogleMeister, AKA bongokitty

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Devil's Advocate @ Jan 30 2007, 03:09 PM) [snapback]382899[/snapback]</div>

    Devil,

    Certainly industry needs to be cleaned up, but maybe we give Toyota a pass on this one because the plant in question produces 4% of the WORLD SUPPLY of nickel, of which Toyota buys 1000 tons (less than 1% of the plant's output). Nickel is primarily used for stainless steel. The mine was owned operated by Falconbridge, then Inco, now, I believe, Xstrata or perhaps Inco/Xstrata.

    To read about the history of the Sudbury nickel, and how if fell from space in an asteriod, try: http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/bu...act_000216.html
    In 1938, some of Sudbury's nickel was used to help construct the Statue of Liberty. Some was used to build a roof for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

    Do we need to protest the Statue of Liberty now? Should we all throw out our eating utensils? Our nickels?

    If we want clean mines, we need real regulation (as oppossed to the political lackey policy Bush just implemented to weaken regulation on businesses).

    Toyota has squat to do with the degredation that happened at Sudbury. Sudbury was horribly polluted by a century of mining. Canadians have been working recently to clean it up.
    You can read about Sudbury at the sites below. But you won't find Toyota there. So yeah, I get irked at the smear job that the article is. But if we want cleaner mines, we should write our representatives protesting Bush's latest power grab.
    http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/sudbury/sudbury.htm
    http://www.sudburysoilsstudy.com/EN/indexE.htm

    EDIT*: Also, what's your source on the EV1 info? That would be interesting to read.
  11. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    How did it result in the release of lead into the environment any more so than any other car? How was the lead released? Where did you get that information? I'm curious because that would be a serious issue that I'd like to know more about. My inclination is to write it off as so much stuff but if you can show me something to back it up I'd be interested to read it.

    I'm not absolving Toyota of anything. The article is being criticized because it's a lousy article that was clearly intended to smear Toyota (it would be a lousy article if it smeared GM in the same way). The article is clearly a load of bollocks. If fails on it's own (lack of) merit.
  12. chogan

    chogan New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Devil's Advocate @ Jan 30 2007, 02:09 PM) [snapback]382899[/snapback]</div>

    I ditto tripp's comments. Only the first generation EV1 had lead batteries. Like half a ton of them. Lot of lead. But GM switch the EV1 to NIMH batteries (Wikipedia says 1999), and rehabbed some of the early product by swapping out the lead batteries and putting in NIHM. As near as I can tell, smelting nickel does not produce lead pollution.

    More to the point, your comment is a bit of a chestnut. Once upon a time, lead acid batteries were used. But that has nothing to do with NIMH or LION batteries. That is, I don't think people are talking about replacing the Prius battery with a lead acid battery, or using lead batteries in planned BEV/PHEV vehicles.

    So, saying don't buy an electric car due to the lead pollution is like saying don't buy a gas car due to the lead pollution. The lead ain't there no more.

    This is also the first time I've ever heard that GM withdrew the vehicles over concern for the environment, regarding the need to recycle the batteries. That's a new one on me.

    Where's darelldd when we need him?
  13. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    Actually, Chogan, there are many EV models out there that use Lead-acid batteries. These are mostly small utility vehicles like the GEM. The Ford Ranger EV also uses them, if I recall. Of course, Toyota doesn't manufacture any of these vehicles. But for the most part you're right, there are no serious EV models that I know of that are considering anything but Li Ion at this point. NiMH seems to be a thing of the past except in the case of HEVs where they'll probably continue to show up for cost reaons (until the Li ION costs come down). Looking at a Cobasys PDF on NiMH batteries I couldn't find anything about them containing any Pb.
  14. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Member

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    I'll try and find links to supporting information. It has been 5 or 6 years since I heard that info so it is a little difficult to find again. Or maybe its a liberal media conspiracy! :)
  15. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Devil's Advocate @ Jan 31 2007, 12:51 PM) [snapback]383438[/snapback]</div>

    Thankee, DA. Hope you can dig it up.
  16. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jaguaraja @ Jan 25 2007, 01:00 PM) [snapback]380659[/snapback]</div>

    The article has been pulled:

    "Last updated at 09:34am on 9th May 2007

    It has come to our attention that a story originally published in the Mail on Sunday has apparently been misinterpreted by some of our readers.

    In order to prevent further misinterpretation, we have removed the article from our website. . . ."

    Bob Wilson
  17. Ichabod

    Ichabod Artist In Residence

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    "Misinterpreted by some of our readers." HA HA HA!

    That's not much of a recant, but at least they pulled it.
  18. chogan

    chogan New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(bwilson4web @ Oct 10 2007, 06:30 AM) [snapback]523513[/snapback]</div>

    One more argument, for when this come up the next time: the Prius didn't use 22 lbs of nickel for the traction battery, it substituted 22 lbs of nickel for about 50 lbs of lead over the life of the car, based on the difference in weight between the Prius 12 volt and regular car 12 volt battery, and the expected life of a lead-acid starting battery. If we're talking about total metals used for storage of electricity, the Prius comes out ahead of non-hybrid technology both in terms of total mass of metals used, and in terms of the toxicity of the metals used.
  19. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(chogan @ Oct 10 2007, 09:03 AM) [snapback]523589[/snapback]</div>

    Nice one.
  20. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    And I very much doubt the nickel in the Prius battery will find its way into the environment but being a valuable metal it will most likely be recycled at the end of its useful life in a Prius traction battery.

    Has anyone looked at the amount of chrome in some vehicles compared to the amount of chrome in Prius? I'd think a typical flashy big car has much more chromium in it than a Prius. I could be wrong too. I wonder if chromium is harmful when loose in the environment?

    Hey there was more about the withdrawal of the story: -

    Your article about the Inco nickel factory at Sudbury, Canada, wrongly implied that poisonous fumes from the factory had left the area looking like a lunar landscape because so many plants and trees had died. You also sought to blame Toyota because the nickel is used, among countless other purposes, for making the Prius hybrid car batteries.

    In fact any damage occurred more than thirty years ago, long before the Prius was made. Since then, Inco has reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by more than 90 per cent and has helped to plant more than 11 million trees.

    The company has won praise from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and environmental groups. Sudbury has won several conservation awards and is a centre for eco-tourism.

    Dave Rado

    Colchester
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