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Posted: Jan 11, 2013
Electric cars that are twice as 'green'
(Nanowerk News) Scientists are developing a design concept for a light-weight electric car made largely of plant-based materials.
In order to enhance the market uptake of electric cars, many research activities have focused on decreasing the weight. Using light-weight materials can reduce production and operation costs, the former through the cost of materials and processing and the latter in decreased fuel consumption. However, this class of light-weight urban vehicles has been less attractive than desired in part due to a lack of appropriate safety measures.
European scientists sought to address issues of production, safety and recyclation with EU funding of the Ecoshell project. Scientists are addressing manufacturing cost and yield, vehicle service life and safety as well as end-of-life protocols. The project's main innovation comes in using biodegradable materials for the vehicle body and environmentally friendly and cost-effective electric cars.
To date, the consortium has focused on finding materials of plant origin with suitable mechanical properties for structural applications. The materials must also be compatible with current processing methods. Scientists are seeking designs resulting in a mass less than 80 kg with adequate flexibility and compatible with traditional production and assembly techniques. They are also developing a computer model that will facilitate weight assessment, investigation of assembly and estimation of production time and yield.
Ecoshell is expected to deliver a design concept for a safe and affordable high-performance electric car made largely of plant-based materials. Commercialisation should have important impact on the consumer electric vehicle market.