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Wed Feb 8, 2017, 12:28 AM

Interesting paper on the problem of electronic waste associated with cars.

Last edited Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:34 PM - Edit history (1)

I'm not a big fan of the car CULTure, something that runs through many things I've written here and elsewhere.

One of the fantasies that runs through first world wishful thinking types is that some day everyone will be driving swell electric cars, powered by wind and solar energy and that the car CULTure will become sustainable.

It hasn't. It isn't. It won't be.

One of the reasons it won't - and this reason also applies to why so called "renewable energy" isn't actually "renewable" - concerns the issue of critical materials, relatively rare elements which for which only limited supplies are possible without huge environmental costs.

(If this sounds like the "peak oil" fad that was under discussion some years ago, and seems discredited now, it actually is. The failure to run out oil before we ran out space to put it's chief waste, carbon dioxide, is not actually as benign as some people may think. The increase in oil production owes to ratcheting up the already unbearable environmental cost of petroleum (and gas) mining.

Cars are a disaster; it doesn't matter whether their electric cars, gasoline cars, diesel cars, or gas turbine cars. They have not been, are not, and never will be sustainable, and the cultural assumption that their use is essential a crime against all future generations.

An interesting paper appears in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology, one of the world's premier scientific journals relating to environmental issues.

Here's a link to the paper: Stocks, Flows, and Distribution of Critical Metals in Embedded Electronics in Passenger Vehicles (Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (3), pp 1129–1139).

Some excerpts from the introduction:

Recent concerns regarding the availability of raw materials for future technologies have motivated material criticality assessments.(1-4) According to Graedel et.al, 2015(4) rare earth elements (REE) are particularly critical considering the risk associated with the global supply being dominated by one country, while the criticality of precious metals (PMs) such as Ag, Au and Pd is regarded to economic importance, environmental implications and substitutability, respectively.

One of the major applications of critical metals (CMs) is in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE),(1, 4) which is at the same time increasingly embedded in other products, notably automobiles.(5-9) Currently, embedded automotive electronics account on average for 30% of the total car cost (this percentage is expected to increase to 50% in 2030)(8) and already 15–25% of the global neodymium–iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnet production is used for automotive electronic applications.(7) It can therefore be expected that the amounts of CMs in end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) increase dramatically in the coming years.

Recycling emerges as a key strategy to ensure future access to CMs.(1) However, current treatment of ELVs favors the recycling of bulk metals like iron, aluminum and copper while most CMs end up in the automobile shredder residue (ASR) from which they are currently not recycled.(10)

...not currently recycled...

One of the fun things one hears when one points out that things like wind turbines and solar cells require critical materials is a kind of glib hand waving comment, "they could be recycled."

But they aren't recycled now. This represents, like the entire "renewables will save us" conceit, a rather selfish claim that future generations will do what we don't do ourselves. This, of course, comes at a time when the current generation is doing everything in its power to see that all future generations are left with almost no resources, a destabilized atmosphere, and a toxic mess.

Here is a nice graphic from the paper, talking about what kinds of critical materials are found in various types of cars:

Recycling of critical materials has a profound energy, thermodyanmic, and thus environmental cost.

It's an interesting read. It may be behind a firewall, but one can generally access it in a good university library.

Just a brief note.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

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Reply Interesting paper on the problem of electronic waste associated with cars. (Original post)
NNadir Feb 2017 OP
hunter Feb 2017 #1
NNadir Feb 2017 #2
NNadir Feb 2017 #7
hunter Feb 2017 #9
madokie Feb 2017 #3
NeoGreen Feb 2017 #4
hunter Feb 2017 #5
madokie Feb 2017 #6
hunter Feb 2017 #10
NNadir Feb 2017 #8

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:34 AM

1. Alas, the image and the paper are locked behind a paywall.

$40 for 48 hour access.

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 07:51 AM

2. I may be able to fix the image later today. n/t

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:36 PM

7. I have added a different kind of link to the paper for the graphic.

See if it's improved and if you can see it.

I pasted it last night while working on a proxy server.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 03:05 PM

9. Yes, I can see this one.


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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 09:19 AM

3. I'd like to see

your ass survive around here on 'Your' bicycle or walking 'culture.' No bus service, no taxis service. An elevation change of around 30 feet both down and back up both ways to make it to the grocery store thats a good mile and a half away for food. I suspect you'd starve to death. Look at the big picture big guy, not just little pieces of it like you have here

I'd like you to explain how we could go from 18 - 19% nukular energy to say just 30%, (not to even be bothered with 100%,) with out destroying large parts of this planet mining the raw materials for the fuel. Not to mention the CO2 that would be produced in this mining and refining process. Not to mention the huge amounts of steel and concrete to build out these nukular plants. Beings as how the manufacturing of cement is one if not the most CO2 producing products we'll make. Add to that the production of steel and how CO2 intensive that process is from ground to finished product

How many wind turbines have been recycled so far, Pray tell
So how do you know if they'll be recycled or not, you don't

NO, your whole premise that nukular is our saviour is fucked. I'm surprise that with your 'superior to all living things 'intelligence'' you haven't figured that out yet.

Then link to a site that wants 40 bucks when you can't be bothered to even buy a star here. How long have you been talking down to anyone here or 'over there' who even attempts to have a discussion with you about anything anyway? Over 'there' being DKO. Who BTW decided your screeds wasn't worth the shit you spew and shitcanned your ass years ago.

Have a nice day, I plan too

Oh 'bout forgot

For good measure


Then you want me to believe that nuclear energy hasn't killed anyone. That's laughable at the very thought.

Maybe you'll start a gofundme page to pay for all these Nukular power plants plus the stoves for heating and cooking in the so called third world countries that btw are where most of the deaths due to CO2 comes from.

I don't believe anything you say, type or spout.

Again have a good day. I know I will

My apologies to the board but sometimes the only way to fight fire is with fire

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Response to madokie (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:21 PM

4. Bravo...


No apologies needed here.

However, for my part, I like to believe he is sincere when he types "have a nice day."

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Response to madokie (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:23 PM

5. I agree with NNadir. The car culture is unsustainable.

Quite amazingly, according to you, that the human race managed to survive hundreds of thousands of years without automobiles.

The automobile culture is not sustainable, therefore it will not be sustained. We can choose how we deal with this reality. We won't deal with it rationally of course, so the collapse of this world civilization, the first world civilization in all human history, will be quite spectacular. Exponential growth never ends well for an innovative species. Were not the first innovative species on earth, we won't be the last.

It still astonishes me how many anti-nuclear activists become feckless shills for the fossil fuel industry. Hell, I remember one here who called fossil fuels "natural" as opposed to nuclear power. Gee, I wonder where that idea came from? I remember all the "clean burning NATURAL gas!" ads from the 'seventies. "Natural gas" has always been a marketing term, first created to distinguish it from toxic city gas, which was made from coal and contained carbon monoxide. You really could kill yourself by turning on your gas oven and sticking your head in it. The waste these gas plants dumped in open ponds and trenches is as toxic and as carcinogenic as many sorts of nuclear waste.

The innumeracy of many anti-nuclear activists is also astonishing. The nameplate rating of wind turbines and solar panels is in no way comparable to the nameplate rating of a fossil fuel plant capable of running twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for weeks, months, or years at a time. However expensive Fukushima will be to clean up, the damage it has done to the planet is not comparable to the damage done by any coal fired plant of similar capacity. All that scary nuclear fuel is just sitting there, slowly cooling down, unlike any coal mine or power plant that spews its toxic waste everywhere.

The natural gas industry, and the manufacturers of natural gas power plants and electrical switching equipment, have no problem supporting the wind and solar industry. Wind and solar must be backed up near 100% by nimble gas power plants, plants that will be generating more power overall then the solar and wind power plants the back up ever do. (If you wave your hands about smart grids, hydro, and giant HVDC projects, you are not any sort of environmentalist and I will put you on my ignore list. Nobody who calls themselves an "environmentalist" would support large scale hydro projects of the sort that would be required to back up solar and wind power plants for more than a few hours.)

Unlike NNadir, I'm not an advocate of nuclear power or most heavy industry. But I don't let any concerns I have about nuclear power blind me to the dangers of fossil fuels. If we were truly interested in "saving the world" we'd ban fossil fuels immediately and let the chips fall where they may. Even a fully nuclear powered society would have little in common with the fossil fueled society we enjoy now.

My views as an environmentalist are fairly extreme. From my perspective, "greens" such as Jill Stein and Ralph Nader occupy the same political strata as Donald Trump. The are people who exploit the irrational fears of innumerate people, people who have at best a grammar school level understanding of science.

I have some formal training in the field of environmental biology, although my major interest is evolutionary biology. It's been my privilege to do some post-graduate field work, although my current interests mostly involve computers. Numbers large and small are not "unimaginable" to me as it seems they are to so many people pretending to be various flavors of "environmentalist." I'm inclined to ignore the arguments of innumerate people, and of those who defend their arguments squid-like, with great clouds of cut-and paste text.

Sometimes I daydream about a "sustainable" future for humans.

First of all, in my utopia, the human population would be declining and that would be voluntary. Every kid would know about birth control and human sexuality years before they had any great interest in sex. So how is that reflected in my own life? I support Planned Parenthood and do what I can to obstruct the religiously insane and ignorant anti- birth control and "purity" obsessed crowd, especially in the public schools and within my own religious community. And, as usual, I can't avoid my own hypocrisy, living an ordinary life here in California. My wife and I did not choose to go childless.

Second, in my daydream, the car culture would be rendered unnecessary and undesirable to most people, achieved by the reconstruction of our cities in a manner that increased population density and "walkability." In my own life, my wife and I by some planning and greater good fortune have managed to avoid the commuter lifestyle since we left Los Angeles in the mid 'eighties. My hypocrisy is that I still own a car. It seems to me that in this car culture a person who doesn't have a drivers license and a car is not considered fully adult except in the big cities with good public transportation. (One of my nephews lives in San Francisco. When he needs a car he rents one, and that's only a couple of times each year.) My own car reflects my low opinion of cars. It's an $800 mid 'eighties car with a salvage title. The fuel injection is good, the catalytic converter is good, so it's not the smog machine an older car would be. I don't wash anything on my car but the windows. It has lichen growing on it. I'll never buy a new car again, I did that once when I was young and foolish, pumped up by my vanity and first career-track job. My wife's car is a bit newer and much better looking, but likewise "recycled."

Third is my observation that "economic productivity" as we now define it is a direct measure of the damage we are doing to the earth's natural environment and our own human spirit. We won't solve our environmental problems by buying more crap, not even wind turbines or solar panels. Wind turbines and solar panels will always be supplemental to the core energy sources. In this world those energy sources are coal and gas. We can't change that without radically changing our definitions of economic productivity and our personal measures of success and happiness.

It's not likely we humans of this modern world economy will change in time. Millions, maybe even billions of people are already suffering the consequences of our fossil fuel use, be it air and water pollution, or the direct consequences of global warming, yet fossil fuel use is increasing.

In this environment nuclear power, pro or con, doesn't seem worth all the arm waving and internet spew. Nuclear power is clearly more desirable than coal; even an accident as bad as Chernobyl doesn't turn the surrounding area into a lifeless wasteland. But that's not saying much, because coal is so horrendously bad. Gas extracted by intensive means such as fracking is pretty horrible too.

It seems to me that gas is the most dangerous fuel in our modern world. It's preferable to coal because it doesn't produce the waste of coal mining and coal power plants, and there are apparently enough "reserves" of gas to last a century.

Burning that gas, along with continued coal use, is destroying what's left of the natural environment we humans are accustomed to.

The future is not rosy and nuclear power has little to do with that grim assessment.

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Response to hunter (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:26 PM

6. Sure it is, we all know that

but whats your answer? Thats the question I ask of you

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Response to madokie (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 04:26 PM

10. My answer? How 'bout "Hold on tight, it's gonna be a wild ride!"

And my inner paleontologist comes out too: A few million years from now our civilization will be nothing more than a peculiar layer in the geologic record.

I think the first thing any practical environmentalist can do is to claim a bit of the natural world you are fond of and do all you can to protect it. It could be anything, from a local park to a fellow sentient species -- orcas, orangutans, etc.

There are too many people in our society who don't see any value in things they can't make money from. Everyone in the Trump administration appears to be like that. They'd happily sell our remaining wilderness to the highest bidder, or worse, divvy it up among themselves for exploitation, Russian style.

I also think that education is important, which is another one of my hypocrisies, since "science teacher" was one of the most difficult jobs I ever had, so stressful that I walked away from it when my wife was accepted to graduate school in another state. But there are other, less formal ways to teach.

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Response to madokie (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 8, 2017, 01:48 PM

8. Oh oh. Your literacy is showing.

I have never or written that nuclear energy has never killed anyone.

But you write,

Then you want me to believe that nuclear energy hasn't killed anyone.

You are, from what I can tell, all filled up with "beliefs." My opinion is that you have never let knowledge crowd your beliefs, and so clearly you're beyond hope if one is seeking people to actually give a shit about the world.

I don't actually want you to do anything, except to continuously expose, in an amusing way, the quality of the anti-nuke mind. This you do very, very, very, very, very well, and I certainly appreciate it.

What I have said repeatedly, and will continue to say, because, um, it's true, is that more than half a century of nuclear operations has not killed as many people as will die from air pollution in the next two days.

Nuclear energy, as I often say, need not be perfect to be vastly superior to everything else. It only needs to be vastly superior to everything else.

I note that seven million people die each year, 70 million per decade from air pollution repeatedly as well. People called "scientists" use this data to make a statement that nuclear energy is essential to save lives, since it doesn't cause air pollution, and by preventing air pollution, saves lives.

I know you don't "believe" it, but it is an incontrovertible fact. Jim Inhofe doesn't "believe" in human generated climate change, but that is also a fact. You're in the same boat with that guy, in my less than humble opinion.

Since you apparently know nothing about science or scientists, we have no worry that their work will interfere with your "beliefs."

Have a nice evening. And do drop by to giggle even as 8,000 people die today from air pollution, a fact about which you clearly couldn't care less.

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