2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


NICOLL, J.S.1, PRIDE, D.E.2, BHATTACHARY, I., BREMER, K.A.1, CAWLEY, K.M.4, GROENIGER, M.J.1, O'CONNOR, G.M.1, PALENSHUS, S.M.1, SAVASCI-ACIKALIN, F.5 and VINCIGUERRA, M.1, (1)Geological Sciences, The Ohio State Univ, Columbus, OH 43210, (2)School of Earth Sciences, The Ohio State Univ, Columbus, OH 43210, (3)School of Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State Univ, Columbus, OH 43210, (4)School of Education, The Ohio State Univ, Columbus, OH 43210, N/A

The authors met in round table discussions during the spring of 2004 to evaluate the resource impact of sport utility vehicles. It was our goal to discover what goes into making these vehicles, and further to identify which countries of the world are sources of raw materials – studies included mining practices employed here in the U.S. and elsewhere. The knowledge and background required to develop the many alloys and the plastics and electrical components in vehicles is very impressive. Also, a lot of digging and pumping are required to produce the resources that go into any motor vehicle, and an awareness of this cost should be required reading of all drivers.

Every major automobile company produces at least one SUV, and some produce as many as eight or nine models. Hundreds of thousands roll off assembly lines each year, weighing from 3000 to more than 7000 pounds – the Ford Expedition weighs in at 7087, but the winner is the Hummer H1 Wagon at 7600 pounds! Most of the material used to produce vehicles is virgin stuff (not recycled), but 15-20% of some vehicles (e.g., the Ford Excursion) is recycled steel, aluminum, rubber, and plastic. However, it is the 80+% virgin material that impacts the environment most dramatically. The “big two” (Fe and Al) come from ores with metal contents of 25% to perhaps 45%, but what we have termed the “little eight” (Cu, Ag, Cr, Pb, Zn, Sn, W, and PGE) are concentrated from ores with grades often far less than one percent, and they are excavated from large surface mines.

Owners of all types of vehicles drive around in pretty large holes in the ground, but drivers of sport utility vehicles may need their four wheel drive to get out of the holes they create. Look for the results of our discussions coming soon at http://geology.ohio-state.edu.