Innovation That Matters

Students build sustainable car made from sugar beets and flax


Dutch students have built a working, battery-powered car made from bio-composite materials.

We have recently seen a variety of products made from sustainable materials, from eco-mattresses to shoes containing algae. However, the next step forward in environmentally friendly products may be a biodegradable car. Students at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, have designed and built a lightweight car using resin derived from sugar beets and locally-grown flax. Only the wheels and suspension are made of conventional materials. The car, which weighs just 310 kilograms (around 685 pounds), seats four and has been certified by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority as roadworthy.

The chassis of the car is made up of a bio-plastic derived from sugar beets, which is formed into a honeycomb structure and sandwiched between two sheets of flax-based bio-composite. This creates a similar weight to strength ratio as fiberglass using sustainably manufactured from natural materials. The bodywork is also made from the flax-based bio-composite sheets. The car, dubbed Lina, is powered by lithium-ion batteries and uses two DC-motors.

Although the bio-composite car has not yet passed crash tests, it may represent a new effort in tackling climate change. Battery-powered cars do not emit carbon dioxide, but they still take a tremendous amount of energy to manufacture – energy that comes from burning fuels that do release CO2. However, cars like Lina may in the future allow the manufacturing process itself to be more sustainable. What other machines might be sustainably manufactured using bio-composites?




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