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TU/ecomotive develops waste-free car with UBQ: Luca

Every year, Netherland-based student company TU/ecomotive produces an electric car with a team of 21 BA students from the Eindhoven University of Technology, with the aim of showing the world that a hypothetical, sustainable car of the future can be a reality today.

The design of the sixth TU/ecomotive car—Luca—was revealed 8 October 8. With this zero-waste car, the team wants to show that waste can be a valuable material with a multitude of applications.


Luca, the world’s first Zero-Waste car. Photo by Bart van Overbeeke.

Luca is made of materials that are normally thrown away. The chassis consists of flax, recycled PET and PP coming straight out of the ocean, the seat cushions are made coconut fiber and horsehair, and the front and rear parts of the chassis are made out of a tube frame from recycled aluminum.

Luca’s body was manufactured by TU/ecomotive out of UBQ material. UBQ is a patented novel climate-positive material created by Israeli startup UBQ Materials that can substitute conventional plastic, wood and concrete in the manufacturing of everyday products.

UBQ is a proprietary composite, the world’s first bio-based material made of unsorted organic, paper and plastic waste—everything from banana peels to dirty diapers to used yogurt containers and cardboard.

During the UBQ conversion process, the unsorted residual waste stream is reduced into its more basic natural components. At a particle level, these natural components reconstitute themselves and bind together into a new composite material:UBQ.

The central value proposition of using UBQ is its sustainability metrics, significantly reducing and even neutralizing the carbon footprint of final applications. By diverting household waste from reaching landfills, UBQ prevents the emission of methane, ground water leakage and other toxins.

According to Quantis, a leading provider of environmental impact assessments, every ton of UBQ material produced offsets 11.7 tons of CO2 equivalent, qualifying it as “the most climate positive thermoplastic material on the planet.”

Luca only scratches the surface of the potential use cases of the material… TU/ecomotive is very much looking forward to continuing to use UBQ in future cars, expanding its applications, and to continue its mission to prove that there is value in waste.—Christopher O’Brien de Ponte, account manager at TU/ecomotive

This is isn’t the first time UBQ has been used in automotive manufacturing. In early 2020, UBQ Materials announced its collaboration with Daimler for the implementation of UBQ in car parts and throughout Daimler’s supply chain.

Luca is designed to be highly energy-efficient. The car’s in-wheel motors mitigate losses in the drivetrain, and the two electric motors have a combined power of 15 kW, powered by six modular battery packs. The packs are easily replaceable, so that when new technology is available in the future they can be seamlessly substituted by full packs and more modern batteries.

The next step for TU/ecomotive is to obtain a license plate for Luca. By ensuring that the car is road legal, the team wants to prove that sustainable innovation is readily available to implement across the automotive industry.

UBQ Materials was founded in 2012 by entrepreneurs Rabbi Yehuda Pearl and Jack (Tato) Bigio. A certified B-Corp, Israel-based UBQ Materials envisions a world where finite resources are infinitely reused.


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