Buffalo, bears and batteries — Oh My!

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Toyota also recently donated a RAV4 and $50,000 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

I have never used a vehicle makers headline before, but this one was just to good to not steal. I also apologize for the exclamation point but it also seemed like a perfect match.   I will forego the sub-title because it even made me cringe, but here is the rest of the story.

Toyota also recently donated a RAV4 and $50,000 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Toyota also recently donated a RAV4 and $50,000 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

One of the biggest questions that surround hybrid battery vehicles is how can batteries be reused in a functional way that goes beyond being a boat anchor.  It seems that Toyota has found a way that keeps with their emphasis on conservation and the environment.  Soon the spent batteries from Toyota Camrys will power the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone National Park.  It is a win-win all around — the batteries will allow a new zero-emission energy option for the park.

The stationary distributed energy system will utilize 208 used Camry hybrid nickel-metal hydride batter packs and a total storage capacity of 85 kilowatts.  It is enough to power five buildings at the Ranch field campus for a year.  In coordination with solar panels and onsite  micro-hydro turbine systems, renewable electricity for a sustainable off-the-grid power source for what is described as one of the most remote and pristine places in the US as of this fall.

The batteries are no longer generating enough reliable energy for daily drives but it will virtually double the overall life span of the batteries.  If not suitable for reuse, Toyota has a battery recycling program designed for proper disposal.

The are a number of similar programs under development at Toyota, which sells the most hybrid battery vehicles in the US today.  At their own manufacturing facility in Alabama, the company is looking at the feasibility of using the partially spent batteries to help power operations and provide back-up power during emergencies.

When the Yellowstone facility flips the switch we should know more, but — for now — this is clearly the right kind of program for a resource that has live out its original purpose.



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