Discover Zem, an air-purifying electric car developed by a team of TU Eindhoven students

The TU Eindhoven student team, TU/ecomotive, has announced that they have developed an electric passenger car that purifies the air while driving. Called Zem, the prototype car purifies the air while driving instead of emitting through the use of a technology called “direct air capture”.

The transport sector was responsible for around a quarter of the EU’s total CO2 emissions a few years ago. It is mainly due to passenger cars, as they contribute to more than 60% of these emissions.

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This inspired a group of 30 students who wanted to create a car that not only generates low emissions in the production process, but also reduces CO2 emissions while driving.

According TU/ecomotiveDirect air capture is a new method of cleaning air by capturing CO2 in a filter.

“We took this innovative technology and implemented it in our car. The idea is very simple – while driving, air will move through our self-designed filters, and CO2 will be captured and stored, the company explains.

The car can capture 2 kilograms of CO2 through a special filter at 20,000 miles of travel per year. The students are in the process of filing a patent for this innovation.

“It’s really still a proof of concept, but we can already see that we will be able to increase the capacity of the filter in the years to come. Capturing CO₂ is a prerequisite for offsetting emissions during production and recycling,” explains Louise de Laat, team leader.

Recyclable aspects

Material compatibility, ease of separation and the use of additives make Zem easily recyclable. CO2 emissions in the Zem beyond are lower than conventional cars, the team claims.

“Since all of these auto materials and parts can be used for other purposes, and very few new materials need to enter the cycle, this seemed like the most sustainable option to us,” says TU/ecomotive.

Around 1.8 billion tires enter the global waste stream each year and all the black carbon is wasted. The team teamed up with a Utrecht-based startup, Black Bear Carbon, to reincorporate recycled carbon black into their car’s finish.

“This circular approach not only solves an important waste management problem, but also significantly reduces the CO2 that is normally emitted during this process,” the team notes.

Two-way charging

TU/ecomotive’s Zem also features two-way charging, making the car an external battery source to provide power to homes, when no renewable energy is being generated at the time.

Bi-directional charging technology is combined with solar panels housed on the roof of the car. In this way, Zem uses both the batteries and the roof space to make the vehicle and its surroundings more sustainable.

The students also plan to improve the vehicle in the coming years to make it carbon neutral throughout its life cycle.

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