Unveiling of the world’s first ‘carbon neutral car’ that removes carbon dioxide from the air as it drives

Road transport contributes around 16% of the world’s carbon dioxide – but what if our cars could actually start capturing these emissions?

Engineering students have unveiled their design for the world’s first ‘carbon neutral car’, which removes and stores carbon dioxide from the air as it travels down the road.

Air enters through a grille at the front of the vehicle, which passes through a filter that separates and stores greenhouse gases.

The electric vehicle, known as ‘Zem’, was designed by the TU/ecomotive team at Eindhoven University of Technology in Netherlands.

Their prototype also has solar panels on its roof and hood, allowing it to be used as an external battery for a home.

Scientists have unveiled their design for the world’s first ‘carbon neutral car’, which removes and stores carbon dioxide from the air as it travels down the road

The electric vehicle was designed by the TU/ecomotive team at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands

Air enters through the grille at the front of the vehicle, which then passes through a filter that separates and stores greenhouse gases

The electric vehicle was designed by the TU/ecomotive team at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Air enters through the grille at the front of the vehicle, which then passes through a filter that separates and stores greenhouse gases

The Zem's filter currently reaches capacity after about 200 miles, when it has collected about 30g of carbon dioxide gas.  Filters could be cleaned or replaced, and captured carbon dioxide emptied, while the electric car is charging

The Zem’s filter currently reaches capacity after about 200 miles, when it has collected about 30g of carbon dioxide gas. Filters could be cleaned or replaced, and captured carbon dioxide emptied, while the electric car is charging

HOW DOES THE ZEM CAR WORK?

Air enters the car through the grille located under its headlights.

The filter separates and stores carbon dioxide gas as it is entrained.

“Clean” air exits the car through the front wheels.

When the filter has collected approximately 30g of carbon dioxide, it can be replaced while the car is charging.

“We purify the air while driving and aim to become completely CO2 neutral,” said team manager Louise de Laat.

“It’s 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 years to come.

“CO2 capture is a prerequisite for offsetting emissions during production and recycling.

The Zem’s filter currently reaches capacity after about 200 miles, when it has collected about 30g of carbon dioxide gas.

The filters could be cleaned or replaced, and the captured carbon dioxide emptied, while the electric car is charging.

Although it is not known what will happen to the gas once it has been recovered from the filter, past projects have used CO2 to make construction materials and baking sodaor stored clandestinely.

The team claims that 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”.

If the technology were to be deployed on the millions of cars in circulation around the world, it would have the potential to make a real contribution to reducing greenhouse gases.

The engineering students, who have already created cars from recycled plastic waste, have also designed the car so that as many of them as possible can be recycled when they reach the end of their life.

Its interiors are also made from sustainable materials like pineapple leather and recycled plastics, and its windows are made of polycarbonate.

The engineers, who have previously created cars made from recycled plastic waste, have designed the car so that as much as possible can be recycled when it reaches the end of its life.

The engineers, who have previously created cars made from recycled plastic waste, have designed the car so that as much as possible can be recycled when it reaches the end of its life.

The Zem's filter currently reaches capacity after around 200 miles, but the filters could be cleaned and the captured carbon emptied into a reservoir while the car is charging.

The Zem’s filter currently reaches capacity after around 200 miles, but the filters could be cleaned and the captured carbon emptied into a reservoir while the car is charging.

Car interiors are made from sustainable pineapple leather and recycled plastics

Car interiors are made from sustainable pineapple leather and recycled plastics

The solar panels on the roof of the car also allow it to be used as an external battery for a house.

A team spokesperson said, “Another upcoming technology that is being implemented in Zem is Bi-Directional Charging.

“Two-way charging technology allows cars to provide power to homes when no renewable energy is being generated at the time.

“You can think of Zem as a sort of external battery to your house, providing the house with green power when needed.

“The two-way charging technology has been combined with solar panels installed on the roof of the car.

“In this way, Zem uses both the batteries and the roof space to make the vehicle and its environment more sustainable, even when it is not driving.”

The solar panels on the roof also allow the car to be used as an external battery for a house

The solar panels on the roof also allow the car to be used as an external battery for a house

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

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

“We call on the industry to take up the challenge and we are of course happy to reflect with them.

“We haven’t finished developing yet either, and we want to take big steps in the years to come. We warmly welcome car manufacturers to come and have a look.

Zem’s announcement comes just over a year after electric car company Polestar announced plans to create a fully climate-neutral car by 2030.

To achieve this, it hopes to eliminate all carbon emissions from its production process by using renewable energy throughout the supply chain, recycled materials and innovative design.

Zem's announcement comes just over a year after electric car company Polestar announced plans to create a fully climate-neutral car by 2030. The Polestar 2 (pictured) will receive a sustainability statement

Zem’s announcement comes just over a year after electric car company Polestar announced plans to create a fully climate-neutral car by 2030. The Polestar 2 (pictured) will receive a sustainability statement

Scientists are developing a train car capable of removing 3,000 tonnes of CO2 from the air per year

As it stands, rail travel is not carbon neutral, with journeys representing 0.4 ounces (14 grams) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per passenger-mile.

However, that could change with a new train that actively removes CO2 from the air as it moves.

An American startup called CO2Rail Company worked with engineers from the University of Sheffield and the University of Toronto to develop huge vents that suck in air as the train moves.

The CO2 can then be separated from the air, converted to liquid and stored in the trolley until it can be emptied.

The researchers believe this is more cost effective than other direct air capture (DAC) solutions, as the carriages can be retrofitted to trains already in service.

They claim that each car could remove up to 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in the short term.

Learn more here

Illustration of the CO2Rail train car capable of actively removing carbon dioxide from the air as it moves.  The carbon dioxide (CO2) can then be separated from the air, converted to liquid and stored in the cart until it can be emptied

Illustration of the CO2Rail train car capable of actively removing carbon dioxide from the air as it moves. The carbon dioxide (CO2) can then be separated from the air, converted to liquid and stored in the cart until it can be emptied