Tu/e students build recycled cars: ‘we want to shake up the industry’

© Luxion

“More and more people want to consume more and more. That’s why we use more and more of the earth’s resources. After we have used something for a relatively short time, we throw it away again. This does not go on. If we change course and make something out of this waste, we’ll solve all the problems at once.” Says Matthijs van Wijk, PR manager of the TU/ecomotive student team at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. The team is doing its part to solve the problem by making a car from recycled material, the Luca.

With this car, students want to show industry that production can also be more environmentally friendly. “The enormous amounts of waste we have on the planet are not only a problem, they can also be part of the solution. We can easily reuse the material. This means we need fewer raw materials,” says Van Wijk. To reinforce their point, the students will apply for a license plate for Luca at the RDW, the Dutch car registration office. This also happened with the former TU/ecomotive car Lina. “If we get a registration, it shows that it is a roadworthy car. Then we can really get out on the streets with it,” he continues.

Shaking up the industry

Different test conditions apply to one-off concept versions than to cars produced in large numbers. “The safety requirements are about the same, but we don’t have to do a crash test, for example. That would be a bit of a shame as we only have one,” laughs Van Wijk. The students also don’t want to produce the car on a large scale. “Our goal is to encourage the industry to look more into recycled material.”

To be a good example, Luca was built so that the car could be produced on a large scale. Van Wijk: “We also looked at seat comfort, and the car has an infotainment system. So it meets the needs of many drivers.” The student is under no illusion that a manufacturer will take over and produce the entire car. “A lot would be accomplished if we started thinking about using other materials.”

Plug in your phone

Luca is made entirely from recycled material. The body and floor panel are made from flax, a plant. The flat panels are reinforced with recycled plastic. The other materials were also recycled. “There is no separate computer in the car for the infotainment system, which is used for music and navigation,” says the student. “Everyone has a computer in their pocket today. It’s a shame to put another one in the car. We’ve made it so you can just plug in your phone and use it as an infotainment system.”

In addition, the car is very economical. “The electric motors are located directly in the wheels. So the energy doesn’t have to go through the transmission with cables and gears,” Van Wijk explains. “This means that we have less energy losses. 92 percent of the energy is transferred to the ground through the wheel”. That’s a lot, considering that it’s about 75 percent for a normal electric car and 17 percent for a gasoline car.

Reduction of CO2 emission

The TU/ecomotive student team has been in existence for seven years. In the beginning, the team built a car every year for the Shell Eco-marathon. In this competition, the cars have to travel a long distance in the most energy-efficient way possible. “In previous years, our team’s car has always been too heavy to participate. Because we didn’t just want to build an economical car, we wanted to build a realistic car,” Van Wijk explains. “That’s why we decided last year not to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon, but to focus entirely on getting approved. In this way, we want to show the car industry and consumers the innovative possibilities”.

Van Wijk says there are still some steps to be taken to reduce CO2 emissions around the car, from production to scrapping. “With Luca, we focus entirely on recycled materials. Next year we will focus on a different issue”. He has more than enough ideas: “The production of a car costs a lot of energy and therefore emits a lot of CO2. We can look at many other aspects of sustainable production in the future. There are still many steps to take, for example in the area of shared cars”.

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About the author

alt=”Author profile picture” />Linda Bak is always looking for the stories behind the news. She is fascinated by statistics and uses not only words but also numbers to tell these stories.

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