It's one thing to design a car that runs solely on biofuels; it's another thing entirely to design one that is also made out of biomass. Yet that appears to be exactly what Dr. Kerry Kirwan, a researcher at Warwick University's Warwick Manufacturing Group, has achieved with the revolutionary Eco One sports car he and Ben Wood, his student and collaborator on the project, unveiled a few days ago.
Boasting tyres made of potatoes, brake pads made of ground cashew shells and a body built from hemp and rapeseed oil, this speedy racer — which can attain a top speed of 150 mph — runs on a special biofuel made entirely from sugar beet and fermented wheat. Besides for the car's steering-wheel, seat and electrics — which are all made from conventional materials — only the car's chassis is made from a non plant-based material: steel. As a result, Eco One is 95% biodegradable. Kirwan and Wood built the Eco One over the period of two months at a cost of £20,000 (or roughly $40,000). "If we can build a high-performance car that can virtually be grown from seed, just imagine what's possible for the average family car," said Ben Wood, who noted that it could do 0 - 62 mph in under 4 seconds flat thanks to a Triumph Daytona motorcycle engine.
The next step will be getting this car and the underlying technologies out into the mainstream car market. Kirwan and Wood have already been approached by several officials in the motor sports industry keen on supporting their efforts. Might an Eco One-type vehicle soon replace our trusted Priuses?