It’s well known that cars, overall, are not very good for the environment. Still, they’re necessary for people to get from one place to another – it’s unlikely we’ll ever go back to the horse and buggy days – so all we can do is try to minimize their environmental impact. Some manufacturers have been doing this by creating hybrid cars, and scientists have been working on alternative fuels, but others have gone farther in trying to create fully eco-friendly vehicles. One group doing this is TU/ecomotive, a student team at the Eindhoven University of Technology dedicated to the development of compact, efficient city cars made from sustainable materials.
In past years TU/ecomotive was responsible for the most efficient city car in the Netherlands, as well as the world’s first modular car. This year the team has developed Noah, what they’re calling the world’s first circular car. Noah is made entirely from recyclable materials; its chassis, body and interior are made from bio-based materials, like PLA and flax, that can all be taken apart and reused at the end of the car’s life.
To build Noah, TU/ecomotive worked with 3D printing service bureau Oceanz to 3D print both interior and exterior components. They used Oceanz’s EcoPowder material, a durable 3D printing material that works in a circular economy.
“3D printing contributes to a very sustainable production technique,” said Frank Elbersen, Sales Engineer at Oceanz. “In addition to our expertise and possibilities, this is also a project in which we would like to grow. With this group of students we are faced with a new era. We like to work with these trendsetters. With their knowledge we will be able to inform our customers further.”
The students first attended a workshop given by Oceanz Academy, the company’s educational program, called “Designing for 3D printing and design optimization.” They learned about material saving and the design of lightweight components, as well as how 3D printing saves costs and fits into a circular economy.
“This meeting was an eye-opener,” said automotive student Jonathan Verhaar. “We can make optimum use of the advantages of this technique from design to final phase. We see a lot of possibilities; Naturally for sustainability, but also for structure and complex forms.”
Noah weighs only 350 kilos and has a speed of 100 km/h and a range of 240 km. The two-person car is powered by six modular batteries, and in addition to being 3D printed, it’s a connected car.
“In one touch, Noah will adapt itself to all the preferences of the driver and by using NFC technology and Wi-Fi in the car Noah will be optimally equipped for car sharing, since car sharing will be an important step towards the sustainable usage of our smart mobility,” the TU/ecomotive team said.
The team will apply for a license plate for Noah so that they can take it out on the road. That will involve several tests to prove road-worthiness, but TU/ecomotive hopes to have the car out on the road by later this year. They plan to organize a trip across Europe to showcase Noah in several major cities in the summer of 2018.
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