Dutch Engineering Students Build Bio-Based Electric Car

Student engineers from a Dutch tech university are working on bringing electric cars to roads made entirely from recyclable, natural bio-based materials.

The engineering team from Eindhoven University of Technology this week presented their car, called Lina, at a media event in the Netherlands embassy in London. Flax has served as a key composite in the lightweight electric car.

The team says that what makes Lina special is that the chassis, bodywork, and the interior of the car all come from natural materials.

The car is very light at just 300 kilograms (661 lbs.). It’s considered roadworthy and safe enough to carry four people, and was given certification to do so by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority.

The team, dubbed TU/ecomotive, was able to combine bio-composites and bio-plastic for the chassis, including honeycomb structure bioplastic coming from sugar beets. It’s been set within bio-composite sheets that come from flax. The flax-based bodywork is comparable to fiberglass in weight ratio.

The students revealed Lina on May 17 during Dutch Technology Week. Later in the month, TU/ecomotive competed at the Shell Eco Marathon in London.

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Dutch automotive semiconductor specialist NPX has funded the project, and sees it as vital for the auto industry.

“It is a wish, at the moment, that the automotive industry will explore ways of reducing the use of energy in its products,” said NPX Vice President Olivier Cottereau. “Of course, it’s still an uncertainty because everything has to be rigorously proven in terms of crash testing and other regulatory standards that have to be complied with. Right now we have to continue to push and help innovation and show that we can improve the industry.”

He said the company supports the Lina project for its contributions to sustainability in manufacturing. It also helps train and develop talent who may come to work as engineers for NPX.

“So the gift we make now can allow a return afterwards,” Cottereau said.

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