This electric car captures carbon from the atmosphere as it drives

When highly invested students want to push the industry towards a new paradigm, the results can be impressive!

The rise of electric vehicles is one of the trends that is already helping to reduce the carbon footprint of transport, although this industry is still in its infancy. But there are some for whom the current model is not nearly ambitious enough. This is the case with a team of students from the University of Technology in Eindhoven, who came up with a unique concept: an electric car that actively pumps carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while driving. .

This is a long-term project whose beginnings date back to 2018. Since then, the Seven Sorcerer’s Apprentices have developed several prototypes; in an interview with New Atlas they presented the seventh offspring of this small family, dubbed ZEM (EM-07).

The philosophy behind the prototype was to limit the vehicle’s CO2 footprint as much as possible, the students did not dwell on the engine. We just know that it will carry a 22kW motor and nine 2.3kWh batteries. On the other hand, they were much more generous in detail regarding the environmental aspect.

Environmental goals

For starters, they used a 3D printing process to produce all body elements with minimal waste of material. The plastic elements are all made from recycled materials and they can be recycled again at the end of the car’s life cycle.

They have also chosen to do without glass, which traditionally comes from a very energy-intensive industry. Their choice fell on polycarbonate, a family of plastic polymers that the team considers more environmentally friendly.

They also thought about replaceable elements, such as light bulbs or electronic components. Here there is no proprietary equipment: everything is built from standardized elements that are available on the market and can be reused when the vehicle dies.

As mentioned above, this is an electric car. By definition, it therefore does not consume fossil fuels and does not emit greenhouse gases when driving.

And just because it’s electricity doesn’t mean it has to be wasted; The ZEM is also equipped with regenerative braking technology, which recovers a fraction of the kinetic energy lost during braking in the form of electricity. In the same spirit, the roof and bonnet are also covered with solar panels.

A list already well supplied, to which we must add the most striking innovation of this ZEM: a mobile carbon capture system that hides behind the grid.

A CO filter2 on wheels

When the vehicle is in motion, the air passes through a filter which, when saturated, draws out the carbon dioxide for storage. According to the students, it would then be possible to reuse it in many industrial sectors. They think in particular of the production of concrete, plastic… or simply sparkling drinks.

So far, the performance of this filter is far from revolutionary. According to its designers, capturing 2 kg of CO2ZEM must roll more than 20,000 km. For comparison, the average emissions from a standard car according to the large conglomerate of European manufacturers (ACEA) of the order of 100 g CO2 per kilometer. Based on these numbers, this means that such a car would emit the same amount of carbon dioxide 20 km. Either a not really flattering relationship more or less 1000:1.

These are obviously very vague estimates. But in any case, it is not the exact numbers that are important. What is crucial is that, according to the students, a very simple device of this kind could have one very significant impact if implemented on a large scale.

An innovation effort that will challenge the industry

It will be very interesting to follow the development of this beautiful project. Nothing says it will lead to the marketing of a commercial vehicle; but even if we never cross the smallest ZEM on our roads, at least it’s one very interesting proof of concept which should encourage the sector’s giants not to rest on their laurels.

We want to excite the industry by showing them everything that is already possible explains Nikko Okkels, the team’s spokesman at Det Nye Atlas. ” If 35 students can design, develop an almost CO2 neutral car in a year, surely there are opportunities and opportunities for the industry as well. “, he concludes by inviting all producers who want to draw inspiration from their concept. A good listener!

All further information about the project is available on the team’s website.

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