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While automakers all over the world are concentrating on building and selling more hybrid and electric cars in the near future, a group of Dutch students is building a car that captures carbon as it drives. Say hello to the ZEM (Zero Emissions Mobility) Car. It collects more carbon than it emits and could one day become a reality.

The ZEM car is a concept for now

The ZEM Car is an amazing concept. However, it’s a little crude in its execution. A group of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands built the car using 3D-printed recycled plastics to reduce emissions during its construction. The end result is a two-seat coupe that looks a lot like a Tesla Roadster crossed with a Scion FR-S.

However, instead of blistering acceleration and electric range, the ZEM car is made with the intention of converting Mother Nature back to its roots. As such, there are two large carbon dioxide filters that sit behind the front bumper to scoop and filter the incoming air.

According to the team of 35 students, the ZEM can capture up to 4.4 pounds of C02 for every 20,000 miles driven. That means that if there are 10 ZEM cars on the road, they could potentially capture as much carbon as the average tree in the same distance, reports CNET.

The filtered carbon dioxide can be put to use

A diagram of the ZEM car cleaning the incoming air.
A diagram of the ZEM car cleaning the incoming air. | CNET

The team says that the filters need to be cleaned out every 200 miles or so. However, instead of wasting all of that C02, it can be used for other purposes – like making beer. That’s right, cleaning the air isn’t the only name of the ZEM’s game; it’s also a beacon for recycling.

In addition to the aforementioned recycled plastic used to make the car’s chassis, the engineering team used vegan leather for the seats. According to CNET, they’re made from pineapples. Also, the dashboard is made from recycled cooking oils.

There are also solar panels on the roof and hood to help charge the eight batteries that power the car. There’s also a traditional plug for the batteries in the rear of the car as well. The team even implemented a bi-directional charging technology into the car, so you can use it as a generator to power your home, if needed.

Additionally, everything on the car can be recycled. So, if a ZEM car reaches the end of its life, it can regain a new life as a plastic cup for the beer made with C02 that it caught. That’s what we call “the circle of life.”

The ZEM car is currently on tour

A front view of the ZEM car
The ZEM Car | CNET

The students that created ZEM are currently touring the U.S. to show off the car. It’s still a proof of concept, but we hope that the technology that they found will someday be put to actual use, if not the car itself. Until then, we will all need to focus on buying hybrids and electric cars to help save the planet. It’s just too bad they’re not made of recycled materials.


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