Partially 3D printed car ZEM cleans the air while driving

Photo credit: Bart van Overbeeke

TU/ecomotive, a team of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology that aims at shaping the future of sustainable mobility by implementing the most recent innovations into concept cars, has developed Zem, a car that cleans the air while driving.

Passenger cars are responsible for more than 60 percent of these emissions. The amount of CO2 produced by passenger cars is the main reason that the students wanted to create a car that not only has low emissions in the production process, but also reduces CO2 emissions while driving. Our long term ambition is for the car to become fully CO2 neutral in all life phases.

The team leveraged AM technologies from CEAD and Royal3D to 3D print the monocoque and the body panels. By 3D-printing these parts of Zem, the exact shape that was needed could be printed and almost no waste material was produced. Printing these car parts with circular plastics that can be shredded and re-used for other projects, contributes even more to the goal of having very low to no CO2 emissions during all life phases.

So how does it capture CO2?

The car captures air while driving using a technology called “direct air capturing”. Direct air capture is a fairly new method of cleaning the air by capturing CO2 into a filter. Integrated to the car, air can move through the car’s self-designed filters and the CO2 will be captured and stored.

 The compatibility of materials, easy separation, and the use of additives among other features determine the recyclability of Zem. By designing most parts within our car to be reusable or recyclable, we are making sure that the CO2 emissions in the after-life of Zem are lowered in comparison to “conventional” cars. Since all these materials and car parts can be used for other purposes and very little new materials has to get into the cycle, this felt like the most sustainable option for us, the team explains.

Lastly, the car is equipped with a bi-directional charging technology makes it possible for cars to provide energy to houses when no renewable energy is being generated at that moment. You can see Zem as a sort of external battery to your house, providing the house with green energy when needed. The bi-directional charging technology has been paired with solar panels that are implemented on the roof of the car. In this way, Zem makes use of both the batteries and the space on the roof to make the vehicle and its surroundings more sustainable, even when it is not driving.

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