Wednesday, October 5

Students design electric vehicle that traps carbon as it drives

In recent developments about electric vehicles (EVs), a student group from the Eindhoven University of Technology has been successful in the developing a prototype electric passenger car that is capable of removing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it travels along the road. This vehicle would considerably improve the lifetime carbon footprint of making and operating electric vehicles (EVs) throughout their lifetimes because it would be designed to capture more CO2 than is emitted during the whole lifecycle of the vehicle.

This is the sixth project that the locomotive students have worked on, and it was motivated by the Noah concept car from 2018 and the Luca from 2020. The mission of the group, which they dubbed The Zem (EM-07), was to build an electric vehicle with a completely neutral carbon footprint.
The group decided to use additive manufacturing to produce both the monocoque and the body panels to reduce the amount of material waste and produce “as low CO2 emissions as possible.” In addition to that, they used reclaimed plastics, which after being shredded can be recycled for use in other projects.
We also know that photovoltaic cells have been added to the upper surfaces to increase range and that regenerative braking has been implemented to eke out a little bit more range from the batteries. Both of these modifications were made to improve the performance of the vehicle. To lessen the amount of aerodynamic drag and facilitate bi-directional charging, digital mirrors are utilized.

electric vehicle
Source: locomotive

The group is currently working on filing a patent application for the concept.
The students are working on obtaining a patent for direct air capture technology. This system cleans the air as it passes through what seems to be a fairly conventional grille and flows through the vehicle as it goes. The team estimates that up to 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide might be saved for every 12,800 miles (20,600 kilometers) driven annually at an average speed of 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour).

This technology, which doesn’t do much on its own, has the potential to considerably boost global efforts to cut carbon emissions if it were to be made available to the millions of automobiles that are now on the road. Even though it doesn’t do much, it can do so.

It has been suggested that filters of this type could be cleaned with green energy, the CO2 that they have already captured stored in a tank as the EV is topped off at charging stations, and then reused to capture the subsequent batch. The Zem’s filter currently reaches capacity after 200 miles (320 km).

electric vehicle
Source: locomotive

There have been several interesting recent experiments that hint at possible answers, but it is unclear what will happen to the CO2 that has been captured when it has stopped falling. These ideas include the use of CO2 to produce concrete that is better for the environment, the transformation of the CO2 into synthetic fuels and plastics by employing fundamental chemical building blocks, and even the addition of the fizz to water that bubbles.

According to Louise de Laat, the manager of the team, “It is still just a proof-of-concept, but we can already see that we will be able to expand the capacity of the filter in the future years.” “Compensating for emissions that occur during production or recycling requires first and foremost the capture of carbon dioxide,”

Inside, we continue to make use of recycled plastics in addition to other eco-friendly materials like pineapple leather.

Polycarbonate was selected by the group as the material for the window frames rather than glass because of its reputation for being friendlier to the environment. In addition, a modular entertainment system, modular electronics, and modular lighting system were all put into place. These components are all capable of being utilized in a variety of product configurations.

While the Zem is being driven, no emissions of carbon dioxide are produced, as is the case with all other types of electric cars.

electric vehicle
Source: locomotive

The students told New Atlas that it has a 22-kW motor, nine 2.3-kWh modular battery packs, and “an old Audi differential with a relatively high gear ratio to increase the torque.” Although the details on the drivetrain are lacking because the project’s focus was on the car’s carbon footprint and recyclable components, the students did say that it has a “relatively high gear ratio to increase the torque.”
The students have also investigated what happens to the Zem once its useful life has come to an end in the hopes of reusing or recycling as much of the vehicle and its components as is practically possible.

As the development of the idea continues to progress toward carbon net-zero, members of the team and the Zem will fly to the United States in August for a tour of universities and businesses in the hopes that it would stimulate others to take on the challenge.

Nikki Okkels, who is in charge of the team’s external relations, stated that the group’s goal is to “tickle the industry” by demonstrating what is now feasible. “If 35 students can design, develop, and build an almost carbon-neutral automobile in a year, then there are also prospects and possibilities for the industry,” said the professor.

In the following sentence, Okkels proceeded by saying, “We call on the industry to pick up the challenge, and of course, we are pleased to think along with them.” “We are not yet through developing, and over the next few years, one of our primary goals is to make some significant advances. We extend a cordial invitation to automobile makers to stop by and have a look.”

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