Tag: yellowstone national park
For all the critics out there that say that hybrid vehicles are a waste of resources, particularly because the batteries go bad after a time, it’s important to realize that many hybrid batteries live another life after they aren’t suitable for use in vehicles any longer. A cluster of buildings in Yellowstone National Park powered solely by car battery packs are an excellent reminder that hybrid batteries don’t have to be tossed out when they aren’t usable in vehicles any longer.
Harnessing Solar Power Effectively
Most of the time when solar energy is harnessed the excess power that’s produced is simply sent off to the rest of the power grid for someone else to use. This works well for those who are tied to an existing power line, but isn’t a viable option for more remote buildings without remote access. For situations such as those battery storage is the best solution and that’s exactly what’s used at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch buildings. There are five in all and they make use of a collection of vehicle batteries to store energy collected from solar, and soon hydro energy sources.
Inspecting the Packs
Each of the excess battery packs is disassembled and tested to make sure they can be used for energy storage. After the batteries are approved they are given a new battery management systems and arranged into 52 pack arrays for a high storage capacity. The five buildings make use of an array of 208 batteries that hold a total of 85 KWH of energy in all. The storage solution offers plenty of power for the buildings to use when the sun isn’t out, and helps keep any excess energy that the building doesn’t make use of during the day too.
Toyota has a recycling program for its battery packs, but it’s even more beneficial to reuse the packs for another purpose before they are recycled. The packs offer a lot of great storage capacity and could be used in a range of possible projects, especially with so many homes turning to alternative energy sources like solar panels to provide needed power.
That’s why hybrid vehicles may not be the responsible vehicles that some people are making them out to be. Whether the batteries they use are recycled or put to another use, they aren’t going to the landfill anytime soon and that’s a good thing. The packs offer a lot of precious metals that most people aren’t going to want to simply let go to waste.
Throughout the past ten years or so Toyota has improved their partnership with Yellowstone National Park by making regular vehicle donations to them to help improve park conditions. It isn’t uncommon to see a park ranger hop out of a Toyota Prius, and it turns out that the vehicles are pretty idea l for the park conditions.
Dealing with Bear Jams
Traffic is often stopped up in Yellowstone due to bears blocking the road. When this happens visitors often become frightened and just sit still until they can begin driving again. With a Prius, a Ranger can drive up to visitors and help them out while leaving the vehicle idling. Not only does idling in a Prius not release harmful emissions that would be bad for the animals, but it also doesn’t burn gasoline, meaning that the Ranger can idle for a long period without worry.
A Variety of Donated Hybrids
Yellowstone now has a whole fleet of donated hybrid vehicles that they rely on. In 2004 they received four Prius to help out in the park, in 2007 they received a Camry hybrid, as well as a Highlander Hybrid. A year later the Toyota USA Foundation’s Leadership in Environmental Awareness for the Future (also known as LEAF) set aside a grant for Yellowstone providing a Highlander Hybrid, another two more Prius, two Tundra, as well as an additional $800,000 for child-based environmental programs. In 2014 Toyota added a Rav4 as well as a $50,000 donation to help with the Lamar Buffalo Ranch.
Lending a Helping Hand in Other Ways
Toyota didn’t just stop with vehicle donations or youth programs for the park though, their engineers also got their hands dirty by helping with the construction of the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center. They helped the center get LEED certified, and even donated 1$ million to help with the construction of the center that opened in 2010.
Toyota is clearly concerned about the environment, and their many donations are helping Yellowstone thrive as one of the most notable national parks in the country. The three million visitors that attend the park on an annual basis, will be able to get up close and personal with some of the most impressive marvels of nature, and they may even see a bear or two during their trek around the park. Either way, they are sure to see Toyota’s presence in one form or another during their visit.