Electric Cars made from Vegetables and Waste Materials

foto: Bart van Overbeeke

This week I would like to follow in Christopher’s skorchmarks with an article about electric cars.

Students at Eindhoven University of Technology have unveiled a car built almost entirely from waste materials, including lots of plastic that was reclaimed from the sea. See it in the photo above.

They call the car LUCA, and she has some impressive stats:

TOP TRUMPS

Name: LUCA

Top Speed: 90 km/h

Action Radius: 220 km

Weight: 360 kg without batteries

Battery weight: 60 kg

Consumption conversion: 180 km per litre.

It’s a two seater sports car.

The chassis is made from a mixture of flax and plastic recouped from the sea with the core constructed from recycled PET, the body is made of recycled ABS, a hard plastic used in many consumer products such as toys, televisions and kitchen products, and covered in a wrap rather than being painted.

The seats are made from recycled materials, as are the side and rear windows and the console.

The idea behind the car’s production is to demonstrate possible other uses for waste, but the team that produced LUCA have long been busy producing other interesting cars.

The University runs TU Ecomotive, 22 students from 7 different courses, whose aim is to make mobility greener in every way possible. LUCA is car number 6!

Each car boasts its own incredible stats and features, based upon its production goal.

TOP TRUMPS

Name: ISA

Action Radius: 90 km

Battery weight: 12 kg

Consumption conversion: 400 km per litre

ISA is legal to drive ion the road and is therefore the most efficient car in Europe.

NOAH is a city car made predominantly from sugar and flax, is for the modern you, and is equipped with several smart features focused on the driver. Noah can be unlocked with any smart device with an NFC chip, immediately recognizes who you are and adjusts all the interior settings to your preference, loads your contact list and finds your destination from your phone to enable the GPS and get you to your appointment on time.

TOP TRUMPS

Name: NOAH

Top speed: 110 km/h

Action Radius: 240 km

Weight: 360 kg

Consumption Conversion: 300 km per litre

Smesh Gearing and lots of interactive technology

Name: NOVA is a modular car whose body shape can be changed to suit its purpose.

Name: LINA is biobased, with the chassis and bodywork built from vegetable flax. She has 100 km range and is also certified for European roads.

All of the cars are electric, and you can download press packs and further details from the website here.

Could this be the future of mobility? A circular industry?

ORION MOOC for Open Science in the Life Sciences

Overview of the Course

I have just completed the ORION MOOC for Open Science in the Life Sciences. The course is designed to run six weeks, offering six modules, each of which takes about two hours to complete. I (more or less) completed it over a week.

The course is described as an introduction to the concept of open science. It is thorough in its design and breadth of argument and offers a lot. It is free as it has been funded through the EU HORIZON 2020 funding program.

It is primarily aimed at those working in biomedicine, life sciences and other related research fields, and is intended to help scientists to share their research with the world more effectively. it would be beneficial for anyone conducting research that produces data of any sort though, and offers a lot of information about different publishing regimes which is a topic that has regularly appeared on the blog in the past.

Course Contents

The course introduces lots of useful tools and research practices, as well as Open Science principles. It is not moderated, self paced, but offers a certificate upon completion of all of the tasks. There is plenty to take away from the experience from following the lectures and materials offered without following up on the data uploads and forum discussions required for completion though. You can pick out what is interesting for yourself.

The MOOC opens with two modules on publishing and open access, open peer review, pre-registration and registered reports. Several links are supplied offering a real-life experience for anyone wishing to try out. Licensing is explained in terms of different levels of permission to reuse materials, with several different commons forms described in great detail (all including links).

Module three is dedicated to research data management and planning, with all of the above gearing up to addressing the needs of creating a FAIR and open data approach as described in module four. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable, with much of this module dedicated to a systematic approach to data production and sharing.

Module five addresses the topics of science communication and public engagement, comparing these two fields in terms of their aims and approaches. Storytelling and prop use is shown and discussed, and citizen science is described in its broadest terms (including crowdfunding and project co-design).

The course closes with module six, dedicated to self-reflection and action, suggestions and reviews of the course itself and feedback.

Why Not?

I enjoyed this course. The communication techniques adopted are broad and really drew me in. From cartoon and comic strip type presentations to TED talks and storytelling, as well as single page overviews and power point presentations that offer overviews of the topics addressed, the pace and presentation styles kept me interested.

Why not check it out?

What would technological innovation look like if its goal wasn’t necessarily to make a profit?

Profit and Growth as an Aim

A simple question to ponder: What would technological innovation look like if its goal wasn’t necessarily to make a profit?

Well that presumes of course that the role of innovation is to boost the economy, which is certainly one of the claims made on many fronts.

I learned from reading the new book Responsibility Beyond Growth,  A Case For Responsible Stagnation, that the EU funds its innovation with the aim of producing economic growth within the region as part of its Innovation Union program. Innovation for growth! The aim is economic growth in terms of greater GDP across the union.

Which leads to questions about responsibility: Can innovation be responsible if it doesn’t work for economic growth? Can it be responsible if it would lead to a shrinking economy?

Well these seem like simple enough questions if we take them on face value, of course they can, but maybe not if they are funded by businesses or institutions whose aims are economic growth.

But then what about the question at the top, the question raised in the book, how would the innovation system differ if it wasn’t geared towards growth? How does innovation differ today that is not funded with these aims in mind?

Can we draw a comparison within single fields to look for similarities?

Medicine

There have long been arguments that technological developments in medicine have been driven by wealth generation. Malaria is often given as an example. One of the most damaging health issues in the world received around 3 billion US dollars a year for research, control and elimination, but this is less than the 5 billion deemed necessary to reach agreed milestones (We have to take these data on face value as I can’t guarantee they are correct).

Critics argue that this shortcoming is caused by the fact that treatment for malaria (new drugs) will not generate much profit for the global pharmaceutical industry.

If we compare this to some of the figures given for cancer treatment the figures are well over 100 billion per year. Cancer treatments are expensive and lucrative for the drug companies, so economic logic would lead them to investing more in research in this line than in others.

If we extend this thinking to global innovation then the question appears again, how would technology develop if it was decoupled from economics? Would more solutions be found for problems that are under-addressed because there is little profit in the solution (or even loss)?

It’s not such an abstract question if we think about open access publishing and the development of free software (UBUNTU as an example). Some argue that these programs are better than their more widespread cousins, precisely because they are developed by users and for users, not necessarily for shareholders. Could this become a broader argument?

The book I mentioned above goes into much greater detail. Check it out if you can.