Monday, September 7, 2009

Racing Car built out of recyclables and powered by Vegetables and Chocolate

A racing car built from vegetables and powered by chocolate is to make its track debut next month, scientists have announced.

The £500,000 Worldfirst - described as the greenest car of its kind in the world - is expected to reach a top speed of 135mph when it hits the track at Brands Hatch.

Built from recycled cars, plastic bottles and off-cuts from aeroplanes, the Formula 3 vehicle has a steering wheel made from carrot fibre and can run on biodiesel made from waste chocolate and stale wine.

Its creators at Warwick University say their invention may be green - but can reach 60mph from a standing start in less than 2.5 seconds.

Project leader Dr Kerry Kirwan said the car was proof that 'green cars don't have to be boring'.

'We'll be disappointed if it doesn't do well,' he said. 'We believe this is the greenest car in its class. It's the first car of its kind built from waste material, recycled material and natural materials, but it has the same performance levels and looks just like a Formula 3 racing car.

'We hope to reach out to future scientists and engineers and give them something they can get excited about and relate to.'

Most of Worldfirst's carbon fibre bodywork started life as aviation industry scrap and plastic soft drink bottles, while the steering wheel was built from the waste of juiced carrots.

Microscopic fibres from the vegetable waste were mixed with a resin and moulded into a wheel

'It's come out purple, but there may have been some beetroot in there,' said Dr Kirwan, speaking at the British Festival of Science at the University of Surrey in Guildford. 'But it's a lovely shade of purple.'

The vehicle is powered by the stripped-down 230 horse power aluminium engine taken from a 2-litre BMW diesel.

It can run on 100 per cent biofuel made from fermented wine dregs and waste from chocolate factories. Chocolate waste is high in fat - and converts well into 'green fuel', Dr Kirwan said.

Although the cockpit and chassis are conventional, they were recycled from an old Formula 3 racing car. However, under the strict rules of motor racing, its tyres had to be made from conventional rubber, the creators say.

They claim that at least half the finished car is made from recycled material or plant waste. When it runs on 100 per cent biodiesel, it is 'carbon neutral' - only releasing carbon dioxide that was captured from the atmosphere in the past few years.

Despite its environmental credentials, it has already reached a top speed of around 135 mph. Its creators say it could reach 170mph. It manages around 35 miles per gallon.

The car makes its debut on October 17 at Brands Hatch, where it will be competing against around 22 other more conventional Formula 3 vehicles.

Worldfirst is an attempt to show that motor racing - a sport hated by environmentalists - can be 'sustainable', Dr Kirwan said.

'The message is that green can be fun and ,' he said. 'It's not boring.'

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