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Chevrolet Volt uses parts made from oil-collecting booms

Tue, 21 Dec 2010

General Motors is transforming about 100 miles of boom material used to soak up oil in the Gulf of Mexico into auto parts for the Chevrolet Volt.

The oil-soaked plastic material collected off the Alabama and Louisiana coasts will keep more than 100,000 pounds of waste from the nation's landfills.

The project is expected to make enough plastic to supply the first-year production of Volts with plastic parts for under the hood.

The parts being created are used to deflect air around the car's radiator. The part is made of 25 percent boom material and 25 percent recycled tires. The remaining 50 percent comes from a mixture of recycled plastics and polymers.

GM worked with several partners to recover and develop the material.

After recovery along the Louisiana coast, a high-speed drum is used to spin the booms dry of the absorbed oil and wastewater. The material is then converted into the consistency needed for plastic die-mold production. Last, the resin is combined with other plastic compounds to create the parts.

The collection process in the gulf will last at least two more months, and GM plans to continue helping suppliers collect booms until it is no longer necessary.

GM expects enough material will be gathered to be used as parts in other Chevy models.

By Michelle Koueiter