TU Eindhoven student team TU/ecomotive has developed a sustainable electric passenger car that captures carbon dioxide while driving. It is a prototype, called Zem, that purifies the air through a special filter. By storing the captured CO₂ and then disposing it, Zem can contribute to reducing global warming. The students will continue to improve the vehicle in the coming years, with the goal of making it carbon-neutral for its entire life cycle and eventually hitting the road.
Zem. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke
The car can capture 2 kilograms of CO₂ through a special filter with 20,000 travel miles per year. This means that ten cars can store as much carbon dioxide as an average tree. That may not seem like much, but the overall payoff is significant if you were to soon implement it on a large scale in every passenger car, the team argues.
The students are in the process of applying for a patent for the filter.
It is really still a proof-of-concept, but we can already see that we will be able to increase the capacity of the filter in the coming years. Capturing CO₂ is a prerequisite for compensating for emissions during production and recycling.—team manager Louise de Laat
TU/ecomotive is thinking of a future where the full filter can be emptied easily via the charging station when the car is charging. The car can currently drive 320 kilometers before the filter is full.
A life cycle analysis with SimaPro software can be used to determine the extent to which the life cycle of the vehicle—from construction to use and afterlife—is CO₂-neutral. Several innovations contribute to this goal. The monocoque and body panels are manufactured via 3D printing, resulting in almost no residual waste. In addition, the student team prints circular plastics that can be shredded and reused for other projects.
We want to tickle the industry by showing what is already possible. And working together. If 35 students can design, develop and build an almost carbon-neutral car in a year, then there are also opportunities and possibilities for the industry.—Nikki Okkels, external relations manager at TU/ecomotive