Students of the University of Technology in Eindhoven, the Netherlands have unveiled a car made largely from recycled materials such as PET bottles and household waste.
‘We want to show that waste is a valuable material, even in complex applications like a car,’ says team member Matthijs van Wijk. The group of 22 students has worked on the project for 18 months and the result is a sporty electric car called ‘Luca’ made from materials such as flax and recycled plastic, most of which was fished from the ocean.
Luca’s chassis consists of a layered panel developed by the students in collaboration with several companies. The exterior is made of flax fibres combined with recovered plastic. ‘Although it was in the ocean for several years and consists of different types of plastic, it is able to give the chassis sufficient strength when combined with the natural fibres,’ the team explain. The bulk of the material used is recycled PET bottles.
No paint; easier to recycle
The car’s body is made of recycled ABS, a hard plastic used in consumer products such as toys, televisions and kitchen products. The car gets its yellow colour not from paint but by being wrapped in coloured film that can be removed without trace. ‘This leaves pure plastic and makes the final recycling process a lot easier,’ the project team stresses.
The side and rear windows are also made of recycled materials. ‘The recycling process gives the windows a luxurious black tint so sustainability can be anything but boring,’ it is argued.
Much of the waste has been used in the interior. For example, Luca has two very comfortable custom-made seats, the cushions of which consist of a combination of coconut hair and horsehair. The fabric feels and looks like suede around them but is made from recycled PET. The centre console is made from, among other things, a plastic additive from household waste. In addition, the team has exploited materials left over from Luca’s own production process: small pieces of the flax and plastic are compressed to make stylish plates.
The lighter the better
Luca is a compact car with two electric motors powering the rear wheels. It can reach a top speed of 90 kilometres per hour and can travel 220 kilometres. Fuel consumption is equivalent to about 180 kilometres per litre of gasoline. In addition to the efficient engines, this is due to the low weight: the car is only 360kg without its batteries. This is claimed to be over half the weight of comparable vehicles. In addition, its batteries weigh only 60kg as opposed to hundreds of kilos for other electric cars.