1. Bugs Bunny’s carrot mobile
2. Mr. Potato Head’s Funny-Face Car
3. GM’s latest prototype
4. A Formula-3 race car
The answer, of course, is #4, and it’s the Environ-MENTAL, the first Formula 3 race car designed and made from sustainable and renewable materials, and, according to its designers, “putting the world first by effectively managing the planet’s resources.”
The Environ-MENTAL is the vehicle of choice for the WorldFirst Racing Team, a project of the University of Warwick’s U.K.-based Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (WIMRC). The team’s goal is to prove to the automotive industry that it is possible to build a competitive race car using environmentally sustainable components. Much like electric-car manufacturer Tesla, the team seeks to change the common perception that environmentally-friendly means boring. They want to prove that sustainability can be exciting.
WorldFirst has set out to design not just a racing car, but an entire sustainable racing system: “If you are going to wholeheartedly embrace the ‚Äògreen is great’ ethos and do more than merely posture, you have to broaden your vision. This must encompass a strategy that stretches throughout the chain from the raw materials to the final disposal of the car. The project clearly demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package.”
The new WorldFirst racecar is a clever piece of lateral thinking. the team have examined all the components of the vehicle and attempted to introduce a green and sustainable element into each aspect of the car.It has the following unique features:
- Composite steering wheel derived from carrots and other root vegetables
- Potato starch wing mirrors
- Wing end plates made from cellulose and flax composite
- Lightweight wiring loom incorporating recycled aluminum and plastic
- 3D woven natural fiber composites in the barge board
- Biodiesel-powered, race-calibrated engine
- Glass fiber and resin from recycled plastic for the side pod
- A groundbreaking oxygen-generating catalyst on the radiators that cleans the air as the car moves
- A seat made from flax fiber shell, soybean oil foam and recycled polyester
- Recycled carbon-fiber for the engine cover and damper hatch
- Pre-impregnated woven flax fiber for the bib
- Plant oil based lubricant
- Non-carbon disks, with low embodied energy for the brakes
Project Manager James Meredith, a researcher at the University of Warwick, said “It’s been very exciting working on the project and important for our team to develop a working example of a truly ‚ÄòGreen’ motor racing car. The WorldFirst project expels the myth that performance needs to be compromised when developing the sustainable motor vehicles of the future”
Steve Puma is a technologist, sustainability consultant and strategist. He currently writes for 3p as well as on his personal blog, ThePumaBlog.com, about the intersection of sustainability, technology, innovation, and the future. Steve recently received his MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco, and holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Rutgers University.
You can contact Steve through email or LinkedIn, or follow him on twitter.