Green Driving Branches Out

An eco-friendly bunch of students from the Netherlands believe they may have engineered the solution to sustainable car manufacturing – an electric vehicle built from bio-based materials.

The vehicle - named EM-04 Lina - is a compact city car designed to seat four people and is the work of Eindhoven University of Technology.

The students made the car out of flax, manufacturing a composite material with the fibers. The material is light and strong, comparable to carbon. Carbon and aluminium are used on a big scale in the automotive industry because they are light and lighter cars emit less CO2. On the other hand the production of both carbon fibre and aluminium wastes a lot of energy and produces CO2. Flax absorbs CO2 during its growth, what makes it more eco-friendly.

Once pieced together the car is powered by battery packs and two DC motors. The result is a car capable of reaching around 50 miles per hour and weighs only 310kg.

The team of students say their creation could be an alternative to the sustainability tactics currently being used by the car industry.

“In recent years, improving efficiency has been the focus in the Automotive industry,” TU-ecomotive said.

“While optimising fuel‐efficiency to reduce emissions is a positive development, it is accompanied with negative side‐effects. Car manufacturers opt for lightweight materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre to create lighter, more efficient cars.

“Processing of these materials, however, requires 5 to 6 times more energy than steel, the material that they replace. Consequently, energy that is saved while driving the car is now spent during the production phase. In addition, recyclability of these lightweight materials is lacking significantly compared to steel.”

By Tracey McBain