Dutch students have developed a natural resin to replace the polluting materials currently used to make car chassis and bodies.
Students from Eindhoven University are working on V2 for a more durable and more connected car - and while they’re at it autonomous too!
What is made of flax fiber and sugar beet and can’t be eaten? A biodegradable car of course! This is the recent invention of a group of students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. A vehicle designed almost entirely with materials from nature and therefore completely recyclable.
The initiative was born out of the students' desire to find an ecological alternative to the materials currently used in vehicle design. Indeed, today, manufacturers are seeking to reduce the weight of cars so they consume less energy and thus emit less CO2. They are increasingly using lighter materials, such as aluminum foil or carbon fiber... often forgetting that their production generates large amounts of CO2.
Consequently, and even though the vehicle weighs less and consumes less energy, over its entire life cycle its pollution rate is almost equivalent to that of a heavier car. The challenge is therefore to invent less polluting vehicles at the point of design...
100% natural resin
Dutch students from Eindhoven University have developed a material that has the same strength and lightness as aluminum or carbon fiber but is much more environmentally friendly. And for a very good reason: it is made entirely of natural materials: flax fibers and polylactic acid (PLA) – from sugar beet fermentation - which makes it possible to manufacture the bioplastic often used to produce biodegradable plastic bags. By alternating flax fiber boards and PLA boards, they obtained a resin that is perfect for replacing the materials used to make car chassis and bodies.
The prototype developed was named "Lina". Driven by an electric motor, it is a small city car weighing only 310 kilos (compared to around 1,500 kilos for a traditional car) that can carry 4 people at a speed of up to 80 km / h. Only its wheels and suspension system are not made of biobased materials. This makes it the first ever biodegradable car, almost all parts of which can be transformed and reused. Presented in May 2017 at the Dutch Technology Week, its arrival created quite a stir!
Of course, Lina is still a prototype and it probably wouldn’t pass crash tests as the resin tends to break whereas the metal on classic cars bends. Nevertheless, the students have proved that it is possible to use a 100% natural and renewable material to create functional vehicles. They don’t intend stopping there and have announced they are working on a second version of Lina, to get a stronger car that is more connected - and while they’re at it autonomous too.
With this initiative, they have demonstrated their determination to find sustainable mobility solutions. Yes, the automotive revolution is well underway!