Travel Green-Save Your Planet

by Ann Samuel on Jul 31 2007 11:15 AM

Warwick University researchers have designed the car of the future. The tyres are made of potatoes and the brake pads from ground cashew shells.

That’s not all. The body was created from hemp and rapeseed oil, and the car runs on fuel made from fermented wheat and sugar beet. Yet, all that is green is not boring. This machine is capable of an impressive 240km/h.

The car, a one-seater racing car nicknamed Eco One, has been built by to dispel the perception that "green" motoring means dull little electric vehicles or filling your fuel tank with chip fat.

The scientists behind the project dream big. They hope cars made in such a way will one day be a regular sight on Grand Prix circuits and that their ideas will be adopted by the mass automotive industry.

Eco One was designed by Dr Kerry Kirwan, a researcher at Warwick Manufacturing Group, academic department of the university that provides solutions to industry. A student Ben Wood, 23, built it over two months at a cost of $46,500. Says Wood: "All the plastic components can be made from plants and although the chassis has to be made from steel for strength, steel is a very recyclable material. "If we can build a high-performance car that can virtually be grown from seed, just imagine what's possible for the average family car."

Powered by the engine from a Triumph Daytona motorcycle, Eco One goes 0-100km/h in just under four seconds. Zoe Howard, head of communications for Warwick Manufacturing Group avers: "It demonstrates that not all eco cars have to be small and electric - they can be high-performance too."

The car has evoked excitement in the motor sports industry, with several potential collaborators keen on developing the technology.

Howard sums it up:” The motor sports industry knows it's got to be greener. And the concept is transferable into cars for the racetrack or the motorway. "The main message is how cutting edge technology is making high performance eco-friendly cars a reality, helping dispel the myth that green cars are slow and sluggish."

For eco nuts, the news cannot get better: Eco One is 95 per cent biodegradable or recyclable, although its steering wheel, seat and electrics are made of conventional materials. It has not being put on the racing track with conventional sports cars, as the designers claim it needn’t be, since Eco One is in a class of its own.