Scientists at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom on Tuesday unveiled a Formula 3 race car powered by vegetable oil and waste from the manufacture of chocolate, and constructed partially using plant-based materials.
Kerry Kirwan, assistant professor in the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, says his team recognizes that people like to drive fast and don't want to be told that they can't do certain things to be ecologically correct. As engineers and scientists, he and his team are trying to deliver technology that meets the need for speed while still mitigating environmental damage.
"This car has got a whole raft of green technologies on board," he explains in a video interview, "from recycled materials to natural materials to fun chemistry that converts ozone to oxygen."
The "WorldFirst Formula 3" is, the University's news service claims, the first Formula 3 racing car to be made from sustainable and renewable materials. It meets all Formula 3 requirements except for its biodiesel engine. Biodiesel isn't currently allowed under Formula 3 rules.
In addition to its use as an ingredient in biodiesel fuel, organic waste from confectionery manufacturing has been found to be useful for generating hydrogen gas, with the assistance of the right bacteria.
According to Kirwan, the steering wheel of WorldFirst is made from material derived from carrots and other root vegetables, and its seat is made from a flax fiber and soybean oil foam.
"Racing cars are a fantastic way to demonstrate all these new materials and actually tell the world about them," said James Meredith, project manager at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, in a video interview. He says he hopes WorldFirst shows that sustainability can be brought to motor sports.
Connoisseurs of irony can only hope that scientists find a way to power cars using lemons.
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