This Electric Car Helps Clean the Air

Students invent a car with carbon capture technology.

This Electric Car Helps Clean the Air | Students invent a car with carbon capture technology.

The next time you find yourself in nature, away from the bustling urban environment, take a deep breath of the fresh, clean air. That refreshing breath is made possible by the trees around you. According to the USDA, when trees undergo photosynthesis, they convert polluting carbon dioxide into the pristine, life-giving oxygen that we need to live.

Today, our cars and machines fill the air with carbon emissions. But, scientists imagine a future, where vehicles will clean the air as efficiently as trees do. Euro News reports that Dutch students have invented an electric car made from recycled materials that is capable of purging a small amount of carbon from the air.

The car’s green design
The car, designed by students at the Eindhoven University of Technology, has a top-down environmentally-friendly, and emissions-reducing design. "This car was made with the goal to minimize the CO2 emitted during the manufacturing phase, the life phase, and the end-of-life phase,” Jens Lahaijie, a member of the team that produced the car, told Euro News. 

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To this end, the car’s sporty frame is nearly entirely composed of recycled plastics run through a 3D-printer and the engine is powered by an electric, lithium-ion battery. Clean Technica explains that by using 3D printing, the team was able to produce parts in the exact shape needed, with very little waste. Since nearly 2 billion tires end up in the trash yearly, the students also teamed up with Black Bear Carbon to source recycled black carbon for the tires.

Even outside of its driving role, this car contributes to the environment. The entire frame is crafted in a way that makes it easily recyclable itself. And, solar panels fitted to the car’s roof allow it to act as an external, solar-power source for a house. It’s like having a solar battery parked in the driveway.

Zero-emission mobility
According to Reuters electric vehicles produce near-zero CO2 emissions as they drive. The drawback of these batteries however, is that the process needed to create the battery cells for electric cars is still highly polluting. The Dutch team wanted to design a car that negates the effects of emissions during manufacturing as well.

In order to offset the carbon cost of creating the lithium-ion batteries, the team fitted the car with two filters. According to Euro News, these filters can capture two kilograms (about four and half pounds) of carbon dioxide every 18,000 miles or so. That might not sound like a lot (it’s about 1/12th as effective as the average tree), but the team is confident that they can scale the filter’s capacity. 

The team is now on tour in the United States to promote their model, which they call ZEM for Zero-Emission Mobility, and to share their vision for the future. They picture electric car charging stations that are also fitted with the capacity to empty CO2 filters. “Our end goal is to create a more sustainable future,” Lahaijie told Reuters. 

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