Dutch Students Made a Biodegradable Electric Car from Flax and Beets

Now that's how you win the Whole Foods parking lot car show.

A group of Dutch students has built an electric car that seats four and cruises at 50 miles per hour. That doesn’t sound very remarkable, until you hear what it’s made of. Called Lina, the car features biodegradable bodywork made from sheets of flax and a resin derived from sugar beets. 

It was built by TU/Ecomotive, a team of students at the Eindhoven University of Technology, according to Reuters. The entire structure of the car is made from biodegradable materials, with conventional hardware for the powertrain, suspension, wheels and brakes.

The structure of the car weighs 684 pounds, and the materials have a similar strength-to-weight ratio as fiberglass, according to TU/Ecomotive. However, the student engineers are still figuring out how to get a car like Lina to pass crash tests. Instead of warping or crushing in a crash, the biodegradable bodywork just breaks, team leader Noud van de Gevel told Reuters.

Nonetheless, TU/Ecomotive believes its design could be a more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional materials, and may have the added benefit of weight reduction. It plans to begin testing Lina later this year, pending approval by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority.

As electrified powertrains reduce tailpipe emissions, the carbon emissions associated with other aspects of cars will become more important. That means reducing emissions from the production process, and finding environmentally-friendly materials. But that doesn’t mean we’ll all be driving around in cars made from sugar beets and flax 10 years from now.