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Dutch university students reveal electric city car made out of sugar

ABR Staff Writer Published 16 July 2018

Students at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed an ultra-light, electrically-powered prototype based on flax fiber and sugar.

The car, named Noah, weighs only 360kg, which is less than half the weight of production cars.

It is a two seater vehicle with a spacious trunk and can reach a top speed of 110km per hour, with a range of 240km. The estimated consumption in urban traffic is around 300km with 1 litre of petrol.

Due to its low-profile, the vehicle only needs around 60kg of batteries, while regular electric cars need several hundred kilograms of batteries to power them.

When batteries are added, vehicle’s weight reaches 420kg and is claimed to have good road grip. The university team expects that this prototype will soon be certified for use on public roads.

The vehicle has been made using a bioplastic which can be made from sugar. The chassis and the interior were made from panels sandwiching bioplastic and flax fiber. The body was made from flax mats that were injected with a bio-based resin.

The university team claims that the lightweight materials needed up to six times less energy to produce than the usual lightweight car materials such as aluminum or carbon. And, still the team says that the vehicle has the necessary strength and it can create a crumple-zone-like structure.

At the end of the vehicle’s lifecycle, the biocomposite can be ground and used as a raw material for other products such as building blocks. The non-organic parts of the car can be included in the existing recycling chain.

The vehicle is expected to be taken on a European tour to inspire others. In the summer months, the team will also visit car manufacturers, suppliers and universities, among others across Europe.

The students have no plans to bring the car to market. TU/e Team member and Automotive Technology student Cas Verstappen said: “It’s about awareness. We want to show that a circular economy is already possible in complex products such as cars.”

He stated that he does not expect similar cars to come into market immediately, but noted that the use of bioplastic panels in the structural parts and the interior could be taken up as a real option.

Image: Students showcasing TU/e Noah. Photo: Courtesy of TU/e.