The new concept electric vehicle (EV) was made by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology.
Named the Zem, it is the TU/ecomotive team's seventh EV project, and an attempt by the team to create a carbon neutral EV. The frame and body panels of the vehicle were made using recycled plastics and 3D printing to reduce wastage. The windows are made from polycarbonate instead of glass for a more environmentally friendly option, according to the team. The interior further utilizes recycled plastics and other sustainable materials like pineapple leather.
As the car is electric, it produces zero emissions as it drives around. However, some carbon footprint is unavoidable when manufacturing any vehicle, so the team implemented a direct air capture technology to offset the vehicle's carbon footprint to surpass carbon neutrality, eventually making the vehicle carbon negative.
As the Zem drives, its front grill allows air to reach a filter that the team claims results in 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of carbon dioxide (CO2) being removed from the atmosphere for every 20,600 kilometers (12,800 miles) traveled per year at speeds of about 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour. The filter reaches capacity after 320 kilometers (~200 miles), at which point the CO2 needs to be offloaded, potentially into a tank at a charging station when the Zem needs to charge its batteries.
"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," said team manager Louise de Laat.
"We want to tickle the industry by showing what is already possible. 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. We call on the industry to pick up the challenge, and of course we are happy to think along with them. We're not finished developing yet either, and we want to take some big steps in the coming years. We warmly invite car manufacturers to come and take a look," said the team's external relations manager, Nikki Okkels.