Cremation ceremonies for the Toyota Prius
In an interesting press release from Toyota, the
company outlined the cremation for the new Prius. Long before the
first new Prius reached the showroom, Toyota had plans in place to
ensure that when the car reaches the end of its useful life it can
be disposed of in an environmentally responsible fashion.
When its driving duties are done, more than 85 percent of new
Prius’s can be recycled and more than 95 percent of its materials
can be recovered in a process that only accounts for a tiny
proportion (approximately two percent) of its full lifecycle CO2
Special attention has been paid to the efficient recycling of new
Prius’s high voltage nickel-metalhydride battery with a new process
that allows 95 percent of the battery components to be recovered for
re-use with near-zero emissions.
At the vehicle’s end-of-life, the battery is removed at an
authorized Prius service centre. Toyota has appointed authorized
waste management companies in each country where the car is sold,
which are responsible for transporting the batteries to one of three
European Final Treatment Companies (FTCs): SNAP, Accurec and
The recovery process begins with the removal of the battery’s outer
casing, which itself can be re-used in steel making processes. All
the wires and electronic parts are sent to a specialist recovery
company, while the power cells themselves are recycled using an
induction-based vacuum thermal system.
This is an evolution of the traditional waste heat treatment
process, but it consumes less energy, is almost emissions-free and
is highly secure. The cells are put into a sealed container from
which all air is removed, significantly reducing internal pressure.
The container is then heated to 800° C. When the temperature reaches
400° C all organic materials break down into a mixture of oil and
water, which is sent on to a licensed water treatment company for
processing. The power cells are then exposed to hydrogen, which
helps break the oxides down into metals.
What is left after the process is a highly concentrated nickel alloy
which can be re-used as a raw material in the production of new
batteries. All the other metallic elements recovered can be used in
the manufacture of stainless or other specialist steels.
Of course, that came from Europe. Toyota hasn’t seen our recyclers
here in action. Within 24 hours of being dumped, there would be
nothing left. Guaranteed!
Cooper 500’s photo by Simon Panton
Last week I wrote about an engine that was used to garner several world speed
records. It was a 24 liter 12 cylinder engine, with the cylinders arranged in
three banks of four, known as a ‘broad arrow’ configuration. I wanted to know
the engine, the car it was in, and the driver. The answer was the Napier Lion
aero engine that was put in the Napier-Railton Special driven by John Cobb. From
1933 to 1937 it set many records, including the 24 hour record at over 150 mph
(240 kph in the new money).
By the way, in answer to the quiz question a couple of weeks ago, Simon Panton
in the UK sent in his wonderful pic of two Cooper 500’s showing the Fiat
transverse leaf suspension. Note the mirrors mounted on the spring!
And so to this week. Let’s remember the ‘muscle car’ era of the mid-60’s. What
was the most powerful American muscle car in those days? This refers to stock
vehicles, off the showroom floor, not ones that have been modified after-market.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Hang on tight!
For the thrill of a lifetime, how about going pillion on the back of
a Ducati Desmosedici? Note the static “handlebars” for the koala bear on behind!
Mind you, some of us have ridden behind with a Bangkok taxi motorcycle rider at
the front. And you don’t get a set of leathers, you don’t get your own
handlebars, but you do get a plastic helmet!
I don’t know if any of you caught the young presenter from Eurosport who did a
lap behind a good rider and got off the bike totally shattered, unable to speak
or move. Hilarious!
Two seater Ducati racer
The future? Here now from Mercedes-Benz
The concept of safety in motor cars has been steadily evolving.
In 1974 Mercedes-Benz showed what a car would be like with airbags, head
restraints and seat belt tensioners. You will find these on any run of the
mill family car these days.
So what does Mercedes-Benz predict for us now? Their new experimental
vehicle, the ESF2009 is their latest concept car, and one focused entirely
on road safety, with brand new innovations, looked at here.
Braking Bag. When the car’s sensors detect an unavoidable, imminent
collision, the braking bag is deployed. This is a huge airbag with a
high-friction coating that pops out between the axles of the car and under
it, and acts as a massive braking contact patch to produce a huge
decelerative force that tyres alone can’t match. The braking bag doubles the
G force in stopping power, resulting in vastly superior braking performance.
Pre-Safe inflatable metal structures. These are metal shields that only come
out in the pre-crash situation and reinforces various areas of the car.
Partial Main Beam intelligent headlights and spotlights. The headlamps are
made up of 100 individually controlled LEDs. An infrared camera recognizes
oncoming traffic and then dims only the LEDs that are reflected directly at
that vehicle. The result is that, while you’re not blinding the oncoming
driver, the rest of the road is fully illuminated.
Passengers banging their heads together in a crash can be fatal, but
Mercedes attempts to solve this issue in the ESF2009 with an inter-seat
airbag system that inflates soft barriers between passengers as the crash
happens, isolating each person from the rest and cushioning the movement of
all bodies in the car post-impact.
Another feature is the Belt-Bag inflating seatbelt. Seatbelts have already
saved countless lives, and they remain the primary source of protection in
collisions, particularly to backseat passengers who don’t often get an
airbag. The Belt-Bag unfolds as it inflates, almost doubling its surface
contact with the wearer to distribute its restraining force across a wider
section of the body, as well as contributing an air cushioning effect.
There are many other features in this Mercedes-Benz ESF2009, including
sensors to work out just how much air should go in the airbag, depending
upon the height and weight of the passengers, interactive car to car
transmission so that when your car detects a hazard, it then warns other
cars in the area, air chambers in the seats to push the passengers away from
the crumple zones and even a ‘kid cam’ in the roof that lets the driver see
just what the children are up to!
Undoubtedly you will see the concepts in the ESF2009 making their presence
in the vehicles in the next decade. With the road toll being so high in this
country, perhaps Mercedes-Benz could design a cocoon to wrap around
motorcycle riders when they come off, wearing no helmet (as usual).