Your Prius is good for the environment? That’s cute.

Cars have long been a target of environmentalists, though we suspect this particular machine would pass even the most extreme environmental scrutiny. That’s because this ride is made mostly of plants and sugar beets; it uses electric power, and it will carry four passengers to a speed of 50 miles per hour. The car is called Lina, and it was built by students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than just that.

 

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We actually mentioned this car a month ago courtesy of our friends at InsideEVs, but here's a bit more info to, ah, digest. The body, chassis, and interior are made from a bio-based composite that has properties similar to fiberglass. A plant called flax adds a strong, fiber-based structure to the composite, while a bio-plastic made entirely from sugar beets is formed into a honeycomb-shaped core and placed between the composite flax sheets. The only items not bio-based are the suspension, wheels, and of course the car’s electric powertrain which includes modular battery packs and a pair of electric motors.

While it’s certainly an interesting achievement, there are some downsides that bear mentioning. Though this prototype has been certified as road worthy, it hasn't been crash tested. Given the fiberglass-like structure of pretty much everything it probably wouldn’t fare too well – aside from literally cracking up under stress, passengers would be woefully unprotected since the vehicle’s crumple zones are basically disintegration zones. And then there’s the styling, which admittedly is subjective but still, it’s not what we’d call a looker.

Regardless, we applaud the efforts of these students for thinking outside the box. Obviously we aren’t going to be stepping into such home-grown cars anytime soon, but the steps being taken here to create strong, lightweight, bio-based structures can certainly play a role in future vehicle development while also providing better environmental solutions. We love cars, but we also love a clean environment in which to enjoy them.

Source: Reuters, TU/ecomotive

 

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Lina, World's First Bio-Composite Car

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Students from Eindhoven University of Technology developed Lina:
world’s first bio‐based car.


TU/ecomotive is a student team from the Eindhoven University of Technology. On the 17th of May
they presented their fourth concept car: Lina. The world’s first car that will be structurally built from
bio‐composites.

Unique to Lina is that her entire chassis, body and interior are made from bio‐based materials.
Thanks to a weight of just 310 kilograms, the car is extremely efficient, which will be shown during
the Shell Eco‐marathon 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. The city car seats four
people.


Since recent years, improving efficiency has been the focus in the Automotive industry. While
optimizing 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 which 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.


TU/ecomotive utilizes a combination of bio‐based composites and bio‐based plastics to create their
chassis. The bio‐based composite is made from flax, a plant that can be grown in the any moderate
climate. The bio‐composite has a strength/weight ratio similar to glass fibre, but is manufactured in a
sustainable manner. A honeycomb shaped core produced from bio‐plastic, known as PLA and made
entirely from sugar beets, is placed in‐between two flax composite sheets to provide stiffness to the
strong composite.


The drivetrain of Lina is electric. Power is supplied by modular battery packs, giving a power output
of 8kW using 2 DC‐motors. This allows Lina to reach a top speed of 80 km/h.


To complement Lina’s sustainability, she is equipped with several High‐Tech features. NFC
technology implemented in her doors is used to detect and recognize different users, which makes
Lina highly suited for car‐sharing platforms.


Lina can be seen during the Shell Eco‐marathon 2017, held from the 25th to the 28th of May in Queen
Elizabeth Olympic Park. From the 5th of June Lina will tour the Netherlands in an attempt to raise
awareness for the problem it tries to solve.