Every few years, students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands develop some kind of amazing technology for cars. This year, the students didn’t want to just go green; in the words of Ruby Rhod, they wanted to go super green. They came up with the Zem, an EV that actually captures carbon as it travels.
The Zem was designed to clean the air using what the team calls “direct air capture technology.” It wasn’t enough to the 35 students who developed the Zem that it was electric; they wanted to reduce the environmental impact from all of the car’s “life phases,” from manufacturing to afterlife in a scrap yard. Here’s how it works:
“When the car is driving, air will move through our self-designed filters, where the CO2 will be captured and stored. To showcase the low emissions of Zem, a life cycle analysis (LCA) was performed. In these LCA calculations all three life phases were taken into account,” the website states.
Zem doesn’t clean all that much air at the moment. It takes 20,000 miles for the Zem to capture two kilograms of carbon dioxide, according to the Daily Beast.
Sure, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot at first blush. But remember: It’s still a proof-of-concept. That means that there’s plenty of room for the technology to be refined and grow. As of now, though, 10 Zems could hold as much carbon dioxide as an average tree—which is still impressive, especially since the vehicle could have a profound impact on reducing the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere if rolled out at a large scale.
“[We] can already see that we will be able to increase the capacity of the filter in the coming years,” Louise de Laat, team manager of the project at TU/ecomotive, said in a press release. “Capturing carbon dioxide is a prerequisite for compensating for emissions during production and recycling.”
The Zem is also made out of 3D printed parts to cut down on waste, and most of the parts of the vehicle are recyclable. The guys and gals at the Eindhoven University of Technology have done some incredible things with cars and cutting edge technology. Like last year, when students built a partially solar powered RV, or in 2020 when they built a car entirely out of recyclable materials.
In both the U.S. and Europe, transportation is a major source of greenhouse gases. Stateside, transportation is responsible for 55 percent of emissions every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The European Union, the third largest polluter in the world, has the goal of being the first carbon neutral continent, but emissions from transportation have shot up 33 percent since 1990, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation. It is passenger cars which make up the great bulk of these dirty vehicles. With all these challenges facing the Earth and the industry — a few carbon-sucking cars on the road could make a world of difference.