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Environmental Cost of Hybrids' Battery Recycling?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the they're-good-for-bludgeoning-seals dept.

Earth 520

LostMyBeaver writes "I have been considering the purchase of an electric or hybrid vehicle for some time. The biggest problem I have currently is that both technologies make use of rechargable batteries. The same tree-huggers telling me gasoline is bad are telling me that batteries are bad too. I'm only partially knowledgable in this area, but it appears the battery technologies are generally based at least on lithium ion, nickel metal hydride, lead acid and nickel-cadmium. I was hoping someone on Slashdot would be knowledgable enough to explain the environmental cost of recycling these batteries. If I understand correctly, after these chemicals are 'spent' so the cells no longer maintain a charge, they are not useful for producing new batteries. I can only imagine that the most common method of recycling the cells is to store the toxic chemicals of the batteries in barrels and refilling the cells with new chemicals. This sounds like an environmental disaster to me. Is there someone here that can help me sleep better at night by explaining what really happens?"

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Google Much? (5, Informative)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937767)

Stolen from Hybridcars.com:

How often do hybrid batteries need replacing? Is replacement expensive and disposal an environmental problem?

The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the carmaker.

Battery toxicity is a concern, although today's hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

Re:$200 bounty (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937911)

Great. So now we'll have to worry about people tearing open the backs of our cars to remove our _perfectly good, multi-thousand-dollar_ battery packs to sell them for $200 to feed their addictions (heroin, alcohol, food, gasoline, etc.).

Re:$200 bounty (5, Funny)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938015)

Umm *pause for twitching*, where do you park?

Re:$200 bounty (5, Funny)

Sir_Ace (147391) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938081)

You forgot 8" floppy disks... Can't... Have... Enough....

Re:$200 bounty (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938083)

Thankfully, those batteries are heavy, and located in hard to reach places. The batteries in the latest Prius weigh 45 Kgs and are located in the trunk of the car, partially underneath the back seat.

I don't see anyone spending a good 30 minutes tearing open the Prius with powertools, only to run around with a 100+lb weight. At that point, they might as well steal the entire car.

Re:$200 bounty (0, Redundant)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938281)

45kg is (just under) 100lbs.

Re:$200 bounty (1)

Russianspi (1129469) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938305)

Wow. This is amazing. I've never seen someone excited about their vehicle being hard to service before.

Thankfully, those batteries are heavy, and located in hard to reach places.

I know these batteries apparently "hardly ever need replacing", but I'd frankly like it to be easy to get to my car's battery...

Re:$200 bounty (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938435)

Hard to reach as in it needs more effort than to pry open the hood, disconnect the terminals and lift out the battery. Sometimes, it's good when things are hard. I'd like a $200 item in my car to be fairly difficult to get to if I don't provide keys and a proper garage.

Ownership (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938217)

Seems to me that if you're replacing the batteries you're probably going to have the vehicle with them. They're pretty damn weighty, and due to hazards may require a professional for removal/installation. If theft becomes an issue, then they could make it a requirement that the vehicle be brought in with the batteries, in which case they'd have to steal the whole car (and if they can manage that, they'd do so regardless of batteries).

Re:Google Much? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937917)

According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

Maybe Toyota ought to get into the consumer AA NiMH battery market. I've got a few stinkers that stopped holding their charge after only about a dozen cycles of light duty operation. (Which is quite a bit less than the "100s of times" touted on the package.)

Re:Google Much? (2, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938001)

Try Sanyo Eneloop.

They have slightly less capacity than the top of the line regular NiMH (2000mAh vs 2700mAh), but they can output upwards of 3A with no problem, and are Low Self Discharge cells. They can be recharged >500X, have no memory effect to speak of, and only lose 15% of the charge PER YEAR at 70F.

With Hybrid LSD cells such as these, there is really no excuse to use alkaline batteries any more.

P.S. You can get a pack at Costco for $30 that includes the charger, 2xAAA, 8xAA batteries, plus 2xC and 4xD sized adapters, that let you use the AA cells in devices that take C or D batteries.

Re:Google Much? (5, Informative)

abfan1127 (784663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938291)

Actually, the life of your rechargeable batteries relies mostly on your charger. Cheap trickle chargers dump energy into your batteries even after they are full, cutting their life expectancies. Expensive battery chargers detect when the batteries are full and stop placing more energy on the cells. If your batteries are ever warm from charging, you just lost battery life. NiMH can be recharged more often then NiCd, but have less capacity too.

Re:Google Much? (2, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938049)

I've got a few stinkers that stopped holding their charge after only about a dozen cycles of light duty operation.

Of course. Battery manufacturers bank on people buying replacement batteries, and since so many people misplace rechargeables long before they go bad or simply do not realize they are supposed to recharge hundreds of times, there is no incentive to produce a better product (except in the precision/high-tech market, but that's a different story). Toyota would likely do the same if they entered the AA market.

People would certainly take notice if their cars only went 1000 miles before they crapped out.

Re:Google Much? (2, Informative)

AaronW (33736) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938413)

Toyota's batteries are quite different than the consumer ones. Toyota's batteries are designed to be far more rugged and more efficient at charging. They also hold a lower capacity for their size compared to consumer batteries.

Toyota also treats the batteries gently, keeping the charge between 40-80% except in emergencies (like out of gas) where it can drain them to 0%.

Consumer batteries only hold about 60% of the charge put into them, so to hit 100% they take roughly 167% of their capacity. Toyota's batteries hold something like 80-85% of the charge put into them.

Consumer batteries trade reliability for capacity.

Re:Google Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937941)

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

They're liars at Toyota or they've redefined wear and tear. After owning a first generation Prius for 5 years, my brother decided to sell it before the batteries needed replacing. He sold it and the buyer had to buy new batteries within months. He did tell the buyer that he would need to replace all the batteries soon.

Re:Google Much? (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938341)

Hmmm ... third-hand anecdotal evidence from "the buyer of the car of the brother of an anonymous coward"? Did you really think that would be at all convincing? If so, you might like to know that my friend heard from his uncle-in-law's ex-wife that her doctor's pilates instructor had a Toyota Prius whose batteries lasted 20 years and 15 million miles before wearing out.

Re:Google Much? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937983)

Life is toxic. Get used to it or get over it (life that is.)

Re:Google Much? (2, Funny)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938393)

yes, life is dangerous also. so let's just forget about risk analysis.

i think i'll just pop some oxy-contin, muscle relaxants, and sleep pills, wash it all down with 151, then drive down to TJ to have unprotected sex with some hookers. and if i'm still alive the next day, maybe i'll shoot some coke and then ride a motorcycle on the freeway without a helmet.

Re:Google Much? (-1, Troll)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937985)

> The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles,
> probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the carmaker.

Huge steaming piles of BS.

That said. Buy a diesel, you will get better mileage.

Sounds good... (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938071)

Which ones do you recommend, and what MPG do they get?

And can they run on vegetable oil?

Re:Sounds good... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938205)

Which ones do you recommend, and what MPG do they get?

Old PSA Group ones, so that's Peugeot, Citroen, Renault and some Volvos from about 1995 or older.

And can they run on vegetable oil?

If they have the Bosch fuel pump, yes. CAV or Lucas, not for very long.

Re:Sounds good... (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938337)

It really has nothing to do with the fuel pump, it's all in how you process the vegetable oil for use in a diesel engine. A 1960 John Deere tractor runs just fine on biodiesel made from fat friers that use vegetable oil.

Re:Google Much? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937991)

According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

And they won't. All Toyota have been doing is advising prius owners to use their car as a small gasoline-only vehicle. The devil's in the wording.

Doesn't mean the batteries are truly lasting, just that Toymotor aren't replacing them.

Re:Google Much? (2, Funny)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938427)

And they won't. All Toyota have been doing is advising prius owners to use their car as a small gasoline-only vehicle. The devil's in the wording.

FUD.

Do you think all Prius owners would remain quiet about this? If Prius batteries were failing after 8 years, wouldn't more people jump on that news?

Re:Google Much? (1)

BucketOfLard (928627) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937995)

Buy that man a beer! If only I had brought my wallet...

Re:Google Much? (4, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938003)

With the rising price of metals, the Nickel content alone will guarantee that no one will dump these by the side of the road (btw that would also apply to the NiCd kind). The automotive industry traditionally has been very good to reclaim every last bit that has value, even if it's only pennies. And the batteries will probably have in the 10 - 100 dollar worth of raw material in them.

Re:Google Much? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938227)

I have a 2003 Civic hybrid, and right on cue to the warranty on the battery expiring (80k) it's performance dropped fairly significantly.

It's still completely functional, but depletes it's charge *much* faster. My mileage has dropped from about 45-48 to 42-45 as well.

The conspiracy nut in me says they programmed it that way ;-)

in any event it's what they said it would do (80k) so i can't be terribly upset. And it's fully functional and still getting better mileage than most other cars out there.

Re:Google Much? (2, Interesting)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938293)

I have a 2003 Civic hybrid, and right on cue to the warranty on the battery expiring (80k) it's performance dropped fairly significantly.

It's still completely functional, but depletes it's charge *much* faster. My mileage has dropped from about 45-48 to 42-45 as well.

The conspiracy nut in me says they programmed it that way ;-)

in any event it's what they said it would do (80k) so i can't be terribly upset. And it's fully functional and still getting better mileage than most other cars out there.

At this rate then i wonder if it would be worth it to remove the batteries and shed all that weight? Sure the hybrid drive system helps efficiency but when it loses its effectiveness, can that gain in efficiency still overcome the loss from the added weight? That's what i'd like to know.
-Taylor

No news about the new ipods? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937785)

this site is lame, even MSM have news about it.

Re:No news about the new ipods? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937877)

Never mind that shit, what's new with Chrome?

Re:No news about the new ipods? (0, Offtopic)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938007)

Who cares? OOOH LOOK, the same product as last year but with more storage? Crazy who would have thought. Oh what you say, they make the iPod more Iphoneish. That's not news, that's par for the course.

Re:No news about the new ipods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938151)

is the same product of last yeat but with LESS storage.

The Real Cost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937793)

The real cost of hybrid cars is haveing to deal with a bunch of smug cocksuckers acting like they aren't polluting the environment when their cars drop the worst chemicals imaginable in to Mexican "recycling" facilites that just dump it all over poor Mexicans.

Re:The Real Cost (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938421)

100% True.

Dump the environment pollutors (0)

ilovesymbian (1341639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937809)

Maybe dumping them in a remote country or island will solve part of the problem.

Or even better, just walk, or just use cycles... unless you want to know the difference between driving cars and riding cycles [beewulf.com] .

Re:Dump the environment pollutors (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938021)

Maybe dumping them in a remote country or island will solve part of the problem.

China comes to mind, where these are probably manufactured anyway, which gives you a solution to a plurality of issues: the manufacturer takes responsibility and on top of that you can ease your mind by blaming them for polluting us.

CC.

Re:Dump the environment pollutors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938023)

News just in:
Europeans are getting fat, too. Over half of the population (female and male) in my beloved home-country Germany is overweight.

I eat fast-food and don't cycle, jog or walk and have 11%+ body-fat which is pretty okay.

Replies that won't be accepted:
bulimia, sports-nut, your momma is fat, it's just a joke, ...

Re:Dump the environment pollutors (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938443)

I guess he's pretty ok.

(After years of stormy sailing
Have I've finally found the bay?)

They can be recycled (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937815)

Re:They can be recycled (2, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937951)

Yes, both Nickel and Lithium can be separated electrolytically, recovered as pure metals, and then recycled as new batteries.

I'm more worried about the Lithium batteries recycling themselves explosively while I'm driving the vehicle!

Toyota Claims It Can Recycle The Whole Battery (4, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937829)

Toyota claims that [hybridcars.com]

"Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

Re:Toyota Claims It Can Recycle The Whole Battery (1, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938275)

And those batteries are probably worth more than that $200 in raw materials, and for new batteries, they need the raw materials anyway.

Though Wikipedia is Sparse on the Subhect... (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937851)

It should still help point out that NiMH are somewhat more environmentally friendly:

Environmental impact

NiMH batteries are commonly considered to have lower environmental impact than NiCd batteries, due to absence of toxic cadmium. The overall environmental impact of mining the various alternate metals that form the negative electrode may be more or less than cadmium, depending on the metal.

Most industrial nickel is recycled, due to the relatively easy retrieval of the metal from scrap, and due to its high value.

Damn hippies... (0, Offtopic)

Sir_Ace (147391) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937863)

Of course, we crush them up, put them in a line, and your mom snorts it...

Soylent Lime {Li for lithium, me for where it ends up}

Manufacturing batteries (-1, Flamebait)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937881)

Is a pretty messy business.

The global-warming-believers have convinced us that harmless old carbon dioxide is a great evil, leading us to, of all things, manufacture big honkin' batteries, requiring the use of who-knows-what actual dangerous substances that end up who-knows-where. Thanks guys.

Re:Manufacturing batteries (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937905)

Yes, we need more carbon dioxide to protect us from global freezing.

Re:Manufacturing batteries (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937975)

Some people say listing a bunch of opinions, stated as facts, without any specifics or citing any authorities on the subject are weasels.

Re:Manufacturing batteries (0, Troll)

Sir_Ace (147391) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938025)

Some might indeed... But I'd rather be a weasel than a hippie any day... At least I'd get a bath once in a while.. :)

Re:Manufacturing batteries (3, Insightful)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938051)

Your right.

I will go back to believing that Corporations have my best interest in mind(more so then myself) and just accept everything they tell me as gospel.

All sarcasm aside, even if carbon dioxide accumulation were NOT harmful, our dependence on foreign petroleum IS. The only reason 100% recycling doesn't work is because some people are too fucking lazy to do their part. Thus, Toyota putting a $200 bounty on their batteries is a great idea. Give the lazy bastards a REASON to help.

Many states and municipalities did precisely the same thing with beverage bottles/cans. Try finding a Coke bottle in the streets of Los Angeles. You can't, because that 5 cent refund makes it worthwhile to pick the damn thing up. Maybe not to you, but certainly to someone.

Re:Manufacturing batteries (1)

tnadys (965295) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938333)

"The only reason 100% recycling doesn't work is because some people are too fucking lazy to do their part" And the fact that where I live besides metal and glass virtually nothing is accepted for recycling. virtually no plastics, some types of paper and cardboard, but not others. Also the things that are the worst to throw in the garbage are the hardest to recycle. batteries, lights ,oil and electronics all go to a separate place and have recycling charges. How many people just say screw it.

Radioactive Batteries (4, Funny)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937885)

The DOOZY I heard the other day from a mechanic, who I believe is afraid his job is disappearing, is that batteries in the Prius are RADIOACTIVE!

Re:Radioactive Batteries (1, Insightful)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938053)


Because going hybrid is going to make all cars instantaneous 100% reliable and breakdown free.

Re:Radioactive Batteries (3, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938097)

His mechanic doesn't want to re-tool and re-skill. The former is about money, the latter about either laziness or exhaustion.

Re:Radioactive Batteries (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938299)

HaeMaker phrased that oddly. The mechanic isn't afraid his job is disappearing because of hybrids, he's losing his job because of numerous sexual harassment lawsuits. Nothing to do with hybrids, he just hates them.

Re:Radioactive Batteries (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938057)

Time to find a new mechanic. Anybody that would try to spread that load of horseshit is likely to have no problem charging you for refilling your muffler fluid and changing your starter belt.

Re:Radioactive Batteries (5, Funny)

pig_man1899 (1143237) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938195)

According to my mechanic, now that muffler fluid and blinker fluid are the same, the cost to replace has come down at least 10%. He says they are still working on making cheaper muffler bearings however.

Clearly you know nothing... (5, Funny)

ameline (771895) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938261)

It's the muffler bearings that need periodic replacement, and the *blinker" fluid that needs to be replenished from time to time.

Both products can be found here;
http://kalecoauto.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=10 [kalecoauto.com]
http://kalecoauto.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=6 [kalecoauto.com]

Re:Radioactive Batteries (1)

Stele (9443) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938287)

Great. I wish I had known about this before being charged $160 for new brake grease!

Re:Radioactive Batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938369)

He sounds like he wants you to keep buying huge amounts of Arab oil. Are you sure he's not a secret Muslim?

Build a wall (3, Funny)

theverylastperson (1208224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937891)

We can use all the leftover batteries to finish building the electric fence between the US and Mexico. Just imagine, a fence that keeps going and going (insert Pink Bunny with drum here).

Re:Build a wall (2, Funny)

Sir_Ace (147391) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938039)

And when the wall is done, we can throw the rest over when no one is looking!

My solution: (0, Offtopic)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937909)

My solution is simple and 100% environmentaly sound! I eat a big bowl of beans every morning. When I'm ready to go to work, I hop into my radio flyer, pull down my pants, flick my lighter, and let off the largest fart you've ever seen.

It also helps that I live in an area where I can travel downhill both ways.

It really depends on many factors (5, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937931)

Caveat - I used to work for Tek Cominco, and have smelted alloys, been a power engineer, and so on.

First, you have to think of the entire life cycle of both production, shipping, usage, and disposal.

Production: depending on the battery used (and there are multiple types being looked at), it may be produced from minerals from say Ontario or BC - in which case it was processed using a combination of methods, some of which use hydroelectric power (green). Acids are used in all metal production pretty much, so you pushing a giant truck down the road involves more acid than the batteries for a plug-in-hybrid which quite frankly has less mass. Smelting frequently uses coal, of course, so it depends on the source and composition of the coal - high-sulfur high-pollution like in China or low-sulfur low-pollution like in Canada. It is NEVER no pollution.

Shipping - again, the parts and batteries will be shipped on a boat using dirty bunker fuel (even in clean ports like LA they only use clean fuel when near the port, a small infinitesimal fraction of fuel usage).

Operation - if you rarely use a car and it just sits there, then your negative pollution cost of operation for batteries is higher - but your pollution of roadways from diesel/gas would be higher still - if you use it a lot it depends on the power source - if hydro, wind, solar and especially if time-shifted so it charges when power demand is low it has lower impact. If you live in a place where electricity comes from coal it's dirtier.

Recycling - if it is - and it will, these are expensive batteries - recycled, the cost of mining and production of the batteries is vastly reduced (anywhere from half to one-twentieth the pollution of getting it again). This is why we recycle scrap from cars and cans, it's cheaper than mining the minerals again.

In general, all things being equal, with typical usage, you will ALWAYS create less pollution with a plug-in-hybrid than with a non-hybrid.

ALWAYS.

Don't confuse battery warranty life with operational battery life, by the way.

Interesting. (4, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938161)

What we all need to understand is regardless of the technology we use, we will always leave some sort of pollution and some sort environmental impact. The answers we should be looking for is how to minimize them; which is stated in the parent's post, and not to discard any technology because it's not perfect. Because if we sit around looking for the no-impact, no-footprint, no environmental harm solution, we'll just sit here burning our fossil fuels eventually doing more harm in the long run than we would ever have done by trying some other technologies.

I'm for a portfolio of changes. Meaning, not one silver bullet (nuclear, wind, solar, geo, tidal, fat people on Stair Masters, etc...), but for the use of all - smartly of course. Just because a technology doesn't make sense now doesn't mean it won't in the future.

Re:Interesting. (3, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938377)

It also depends on where you are and the relative costs and pollution impacts of the fuels you use.

Just look at the different types of biofuels - if we grow switchgrass or algae in areas with sufficient water they can make sense, just as cane sugar biofuel can make sense if we don't burn the crop waste in the fields and use sustainable practices, but in an arid place with high fertilizer usage it makes no sense.

In most cases, a plug-in-hybrid makes sense as at least ONE of the vehicles in a family, preferably as the one most used during in-city usage or for commuting. Some family members would be better off carpooling, biking, walking, or taking the (probably already biodiesel hybrid) bus or light rail.

Costs of first adopters of any technology are always high as they rarely can reuse materials, don't have efficient economy-of-scale production, and don't have all the features later adopters get.

You could cut your global warming emissions in half just by living near where you work, actually.

Honda insight thraed last week? (-1, Troll)

phatvw (996438) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938199)

I find it odd that my post last week in the Honda insight thread on this EXACT topic was modded down as troll: http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=954363&cid=24883999 [slashdot.org]

I reckon I should have posted my comment as an ask slashdot story to get the super ultra mega karma points.

mod this dude up (1)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938219)

really...I wish I had the points

Re:It really depends on many factors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938279)

Don't confuse battery warranty life with operational battery life, by the way.

Amen brother.

You want a longer warranty? Sure, just pay more up front.

Doesn't mean the battery is any different at all.

Re:It really depends on many factors (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938395)

hydroelectric power (green)

Destroying ecosystems is green? News to me.
 

In general, all things being equal, with typical usage, you will ALWAYS create less pollution with a plug-in-hybrid than with a non-hybrid.

Summary and translation: In general, all things being equal, and depending on a large number of questionable assumptions. You will generate less pollution with a hybrid. Maybe..

Battery life cycle (5, Informative)

BobSixtyFour (967533) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937935)

Not only do these batteries last a long time, due to careful maintenance by the car's computer and optimization of charge/discharge patterns, they are fully recyclable and less poisonous when compared to lead batteries.

Most people believe the lifecycle of a battery dies when the car is totaled. Not true. Batteries are being salvaged and sold on ebay to continue their services past the totaling of the car. There has also been progress of mixing n matching individual modules within battery packs, to further extend the usefulness of each part of the battery. Hybrid car batteries are made up of many modules. When the battery fails, its only one or two modules that fail, and can be replaced with other modules that have the same charge/discharge characteristics.

These dead modules can then be sent to Toyota to be recycled, the nickel extracted and re-used in new batteries.

Re:Battery life cycle (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938141)

Actually Lead Acid batteries are HEAVILY recycled, in fact they are one of the easiest and most often recycled items out there.

My dad worked for a car battery company... ;)

Sides, you get like $10 for the old battery if you bring it in for a new one. That lead is valuable.

Prius is a stupid idea! (-1, Troll)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937949)

Since the Prius cost more to drive and it takes more energy to manufacture than a Hummer [slashdot.org] , why would you want one.

Oh, to make it look like you a tree hugger and to make yourself feel like you have done something good.
Oops, sorry to burst your bubble.

Bad study. (5, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938027)

You do realize that the source study (http://cnwmr.com/nss-folder/automotiveenergy/)has been thoroughly debunked in the same Slashdot discussion that you linked to? If you troll, at least put some effort into it.

Re:Prius is a stupid idea! (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938159)

Congratulations. You quoted a Slashdot story filled with cautions about how questionable or reliable the study was, and how they never disclosed how they arrived at the "magic numbers" used for computing the basis for the "fact" you quoted.

If you're going to troll, you should at least google for some stories that don't expose the bias you're trying to hide.

Fuel Cell is the only way to go... (3, Interesting)

harrie_o (1350423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938009)

Fuel Cell is the only way to go... ... Honda Insight coming in spring and promised fuel-cell for it shortly after ON THE CHEAP.

No batteries. Makes Hydrogen and Oxygen in tanks for itself from water and electricity plugin then just like a gas gauge can let it set or drive til the tanks are dry before plugging in again.

Now a small nuclear reactor for each township and life becomes cheap again OTHERWISE its the ELECTRIC COMPANIES' TURN to overcharge us instead of the OIL COMPANIES.

I tried t ask about that recently (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938017)

At the last Maker Faire in San Mateo I asked one of the guys at the hybrid car conversion booth and got some really flippant snide remarks. Not very helpful at all belaying any of my concerns.

Don't worry, the earth is safe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938019)

The people behind the beer helmet have released a new helmet with small turbines.

They predict they will be able to power the US for the next 1000 years from the steam released from liberal ears if Obama goes down in November.

LiON batteries (1)

warmotor (1153299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938035)

Was watching this show on the History channel about this very issue, and they contended that there are no toxic substances or heavy metals in Lithium Ion batteries and they can be safely disposed of with very little hassle. Of course they do have a tendency to set your laptop aflame, apparently, so have fun riding on one 50x larger. On the subject of confused tree huggers and head-in-sand conservatives, why hasn't anybody stood up and called bullshit on the fact that you can't dispose of compact flourescent bulbs thanks to the mercury content?

Friendly as compared to what? (0, Flamebait)

Spacepup (695354) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938045)

I hate the term environmentally friendly. I hate it not because I think it's ok to kill off entire species but because the term is tossed around as the biggest guilt trip ever devised. Use water... you're not environmentally friendly. Exhale CO2 and you aren't environmentally friendly. Raise a cow... your polluting our skys with methane. Eat the cow to end the methane agony... you just killed a species! OMG NOZ!

The environmentalists will never be happy unless you dig yourself a shallow grave*, curl up, and die.

*Better make sure to move any protected species first.

Re:Friendly as compared to what? (1)

PenGun (794213) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938091)

"The environmentalists will never be happy unless you dig yourself a shallow grave*, curl up, and die."

  Please ... Make My Day.

Re:Friendly as compared to what? (2, Insightful)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938127)

I was going to post a very similiar response, but now I don't have to. The parent post is right on. I care about the planet and want to make sure we can live on it far into the future, so I try to be responsible. But the only thing that will make most environmentalists happy is to wander around in the forest naked, eating raw vegetables. There are some very good environmentalists, but in my experience, most of them are just wacko sensationalists that want or need attention.

Re:Friendly as compared to what? (1)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938319)

Or most of them are sane but you get to hear about the insane ideas because you search for reasons to invalidate the environmentalist claims.

What ever you are doing to protect the environment is probably to little, that's the negative way. On the positive side we always have new challenges to keep the environment pleasant to humans.

Re:Friendly as compared to what? (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938307)

Once species we could do without is the straw man.

DOH (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938075)

And I sold my nickel shares to Xenu!

Public Transportation (2, Interesting)

glgraca (105308) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938105)

If you are truly worried about your impact on the environment, use public transportation.

Re:Public Transportation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938241)

Because buses drive on fairy drool!

If you are truly worried about your impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938373)

Kill yourself.

Summary (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938211)

"I don't understand battery recycling, are Liberals killing the world with hybrid batteries?"

No.

Buy a bicycle (3, Insightful)

GRW (63655) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938229)

You can avoid the whole moral dilemma by buying yourself a good bicycle and/or using public transit. It works for me.

Re:Buy a bicycle (1)

abfan1127 (784663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938315)

what about hybrid-based public transit? I'd say stick with the bike.

Erm (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938237)

On a sidenote, is the OP saying that we shouldn't recycle batteries, or that batteries are wrong? I'm a little fuzzy here...

DIESEL (1)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938265)

Just get a Diesel and avoid the whole battery mess... Modern Diesels are quiet, don't stink, and have no problems starting in cold weather. VW will beat the Prius in mileage handily: http://wot.motortrend.com/6293714/green/look-out-prius-volkswagen-golf-bluemotion-diesel-concept-capable-of-60-plus-mpg/index.html [motortrend.com] Current US Diesels get great mileage, and have no batteries to recycle (other than your standard lead acid car battery). Diesels are wildly popular in Europe where gas prices have long been absurd.

Ok, metals are poisonous... (2, Interesting)

Brandano (1192819) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938339)

But where do you go to get some lithium in the first place? Most people don't seem to realize that several of these nasty materials occur naturally in parts of the world, like asbestos rich rock formations, radioactive radon filled volcanic rocks and even naturally radioactive uranium minerals. If anything enrichened radioactive materials have a lower half-life than their milder naturally occurring raw minerals. It's not like all this material was brought into existence through a conjuring trick.

Imagination (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938357)

"I can only imagine that the most common method of recycling the cells is to store the toxic chemicals of the batteries in barrels..."

You have such a limited imagination...

Not all pollution is the same (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938365)

Some pollution, such as carbon, causes global climate change. Some, like the chemicals in the batteries, has other consequences, but does not cause climate change (AFAIK). IMHO, climate change is the higher priority right now.

Also, fossil-fuels come with other costs: Wars, oppressive regimes, death and destruction, etc. I'll take the batteries.

Not just the cost of recycling... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24938383)

It's not just the environmental impact of recycling, which as i read in an earlier post isn't that bad. The cost of making the batteries in the first place is hugely destructive to the environment. I was going to quote this to you verbatim but its just easier to link you here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKTOyiKLARk

I know its jeremy clarkson and he hates hybrids, but he makes valid points about the mining, the refining and the shipping of these materials.

How Tesla's Lithium Batteries are Recycled (4, Informative)

Spoke (6112) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938399)

Others have already given a good idea of how NiMH batteries are recycled (and how they are relatively benign if not), here is how Tesla is planning on recycling Lithium batteries used in their electric cars when it comes time to replace them:

Mythbusters Part 3: Recycling our Non-Toxic Battery Packs [teslamotors.com]

While NiMH batteries are what's used in just about all hybrid vehicles on the road today, the industry is slowly moving towards as the advantages of Lithium based batteries (higher power to weight ratio, higher power density) outweighs their drawbacks (high cost), and higher energy density is required to make plug-in and pure electric vehicles usable.

I heard PGE is finding other uses for them (2, Interesting)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 5 years ago | (#24938417)

It might have been on Slashdot, but I heard that Pacific Gas and Electric is taking batteries that are no longer usable in hybrid cars and applying them as backups in office buildings. The batteries might have had physical damage or some other condition that prevents their use in cars but allows their use in fixed locations.

Also, not all the batteries are NiMH. I think the Chevy Volt will have a Lithium Ion battery, the kind that has caused problems in laptops. I've heard they are working on reliability and safety issues with the batteries.

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