Students from TU/Ecomotive, Eindhoven University of Technology, have developed a carbon neutral car out of sheets of flax and a resin based on beet sugar called Lina.
Including the chassis, Lina is almost entirely biodegradable, according to one of the student developers. He said only the wheels and suspension systems are not yet of bio-based materials. They have actively avoided using even aluminium in their model.
Also, the team sourced all materials locally to avoid greenhouse gasses emitted during transportation. Their aim is to make a truly "CO2 neutral car", according to their website.
The makers of Lina claim that while there are a number of electric car makers making energy-efficient vehicles, the amount of emissions produced during their manufacture nullifies any intended effects on the environment.
In the case of Lina, "energy that is saved while driving the car is now spent during the production phase", said leader of the research team, Noud van de Gevel.
While being light and eco-friendly, the team says Lina is also practical as a daily use vehicle. It can seat four in comfort and has all the luxuries that can be expected of a city car, they claim. It will have a top speed of 80kmph.
The structural integrity of the flax and sugar resin mix is reportedly similar to that of fibreglass and Lina only weighs around 310kg. It has not passed any crash tests yet because the materials used in Lina, "will not bend like metal, but break", Van de Gevel said.
The team envisions a future where modular battery systems will allow users of Lina to simply swap out batteries when they are low instead of waiting a few hours to get back on the road. Sustainable batteries, they claim, will be a reality in the future and their cars will be ready for such developments.
The TU/Ecomotive team plans to showcase Lina to the public and test drive the car by the end of this year, after they get it registered with the Netherlands Vehicle Authority.
The push towards eco-friendly and environmentally positive motoring has led a number of car makers to realign their outlook in not only design, but also from an engineering point of view. Companies like Volvo have pledged to not make "cars without an electric motor" while Tesla has ramped up production to become one of the biggest car makers in the world.