Dutch students unveil ZEM, the world’s first ‘carbon-neutral car’ that captures CO2 from the air as it drives down the road
Watch out Tesla, you have a new competitor. Say hello to ZEM (for zero-emission mobility), the world’s first carbon-eating car that captures CO2 from the air as it drives down the road developed by a team of TU/Ecomotive students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
The ‘ZEM’ sucks up carbon dioxide and stores up to 30g of the greenhouse gas as it drives around and releases out ‘clean’, filtered air. Its solar panels on the roof and the hood serve as an external battery that provides green energy to a house.
The Eindhoven team is not new to building electric cars. We first wrote about them back in 2020 when they unveiled Luca, an electric car made entirely from recycled waste fished out of the sea and household garbage as part of their effort to demonstrate that plastic can be reused in a useful manner. The car was designed and built by a group of 22 students in just under 18 months.
However, the new ZEM prototype electric vehicle (EV) is unlike anything the world has ever seen. The two-seater ZEM electric car, which resembles a BMW coupe, houses a Cleantron lithium-ion battery pack, and most of its parts are 3D-printed from recycled plastics.
“Our end goal is to create a more sustainable future,” said Jens Lahaije, finance manager for TU/Ecomotive, the Eindhoven University of Technology student team that created the car.
The Eindhoven team estimated that ZEM uses two filters that can capture up to 4.41 lb (2 kilograms) of CO2 over 20,000 miles of driving, Their goal is a future when filters can be emptied at charging stations.
“We are cleaning the air while driving and aiming to become completely CO2 neutral,” said team manager Louise de Laat. ‘It is 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 coming years.
‘Capturing CO2 is a prerequisite for compensating for emissions during production and recycling.’ The Zem’s filter currently reaches capacity after about 200 miles, when it has collected about 30g of gaseous carbon dioxide.
The car also boasts a monocoque and body panels. Just like Luca, ZEM is made using additive manufacturing techniques including recycled plastics.
Every year, Europe produces about 58 million tons of plastic every year. In addition, Europe also produces nearly 25 million tons of plastic waste, of which only 30% is recycled, 39% is incinerated, and 31% is discarded in landfills.
Below is a video of ZEM in action.
Below is another photo of the ZEM team.