Eco-friendly motoring is associated with vehicles or improving energy efficiency. Now a group of pupils is challenging the concept that it isn’t only the automobile’s fuel use credentials that matter, but its really stuff. The quest for increased fuel efficiency has induced car manufacturers to make vehicles from aluminum and carbon fiber, an easier alternative to steel. However, these materials need about 5 times more energy to create. Which means energy saved throughout the driving phase is really being spent throughout the production phase. It’s this conundrum which has led to the production of Lina – the first ever automobile to be constructed from natural fibers, flax and sugar beet to be precise.
Lina is the brainchild of a group of pupils from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. The chassis, body and interior of the vehicle are made from a resin derived from flax – a plant which may be grown in a moderate climate – and – along with a bioplastic made entirely from sugar beet. The resulting material has a strength weight ratio that’s comparable to fibreglass. Only the wheels and suspension systems aren’t made from bio based materials. This special material implies that the automobile weighs 310kg, making the electrical engine far more efficient. Powered by battery packs that are modular, Lina could attain a top speed of 80km per hour.
The automobile was certified as roadworthy by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority, but still needs to be crash tested to ascertain how well the resin will withstand the pressure. Other manufacturers are currently experimenting with different materials to create cars. In Japan, scientists have been looking at wood pulp, while Ford has announced a project to add bamboo as part of its automobiles. Say farewell to the metal engines and hi to hi technology roadsters of the future: faster, cleaner, lighter and sleeker.