The world’s first carbon neutral car has been unveiled

Hands on steering wheel with countryside view outside.

Meet the car that cleans the air while you drive.

Dutch student engineers have unveiled Zem, an electric car which removes and stores carbon dioxide as you travel from A to B.

Filtering through the CO2

The Zem prototype – engineered by the TU/ecomotive team from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands – uses a filter to separate and store greenhouse gases.

Air flows in through a grille on the front of the vehicle, and then goes through the filter that stores the carbon dioxide.

The filter currently reaches capacity after 200 miles when it has collected around 30g of the harmful gas. Filters can be cleaned or replaced, and carbon dioxide can be emptied while the electric car is being charged.

Team manager Louise de Laat said: “It is really still a proof-of-concept, but we can already see that we will be able to increase the capacity of the filter in the coming years.”

According to the Zem team, up to two kilograms of carbon dioxide could be removed for every 12,800 miles the car travels per year using its ‘direct air capture technology’.

Removing carbon dioxide isn’t the only environmentally-friendly thing about this car – its interiors are made from sustainable materials like pineapple leather (a leather alternative made from pineapple leaves) and recycled plastics, and its windows are made from polycarbonate. The prototype has been fitted with solar panels that can also be used as an external battery for a house.

A greener future

Nikki Okkels, the team’s external relations manager, said: “We want to tickle the industry by showing what is already possible.

“If 35 students can design, develop and build an almost carbon-neutral car in a year, then there are also opportunities and possibilities for the industry.

“We call on the industry to pick up the challenge, and of course we are happy to think along with them.”

Zem’s team manager added: “Capturing CO2 is a prerequisite for compensating for emissions during production and recycling.”

Worried about the carbon footprint of your car? Find out how your car tyres are harming the environment.

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