June 30, 2009

“˜Green’ Racing Car Runs On Chocolate, Vegetable Oil

Are you ready for engines filled with chocolate, carrot steering wheels and soybean oil foam seats? Well, this is motor racing's new, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly car series of the future.

Even though Formula One stables spend millions on the newest thing in technology, researchers in Britain see an organic outlook for racing.

Researchers at the Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Center thought up the biodiesel WorldFirst F3 car, created as a response to Formula One's "carbon excesses." The team developed the sample for a mere $220,000.

Head researcher James Meredith and investigators Dr. Kerry Kirwan and Dr. Steve Maggs, insist that they are resolute in showing the racing community that "it is possible to build a competitive racing car using environmentally sustainable components".

"At the moment we use all sorts of waste to turn in to biodiesel - including excess fat trimmed from operations," Meredith told AFP.

Green essentials are "creeping out of the woodwork" constantly, Meredith told AFP. Although the motor industry is willing to fund electric vehicles, hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars, sponsorship is hard to come by because of the current worries of the car industry.

"It's been difficult to get people involved but we're trying to get companies expertise and keep costs down," says Meredith. "But we have the advantage now of being quite high-profile. We have had chats about sponsorship but there are no direct offers of cash yet."

"We hope to get further funding on the basis of a number of future research grant applications."

The WorldFirst developers say there is no need to negotiate on car performance while "effectively managing the planet's resources."

The car, inspired by the 2005 Lola B05/30 body, is equipped with a biodiesel engine that runs on vegetable oil and waste chocolate. The radiator is layered with an emission-blocking catalyst, dropping the spread of ground-level ozone.

"We have set this up with the intention of making a racing car out of green materials which is competitive," Meredith told AFP, noting that several elements of the green car are already being mass-produced.

The soybean seat is available for purchase, although Meredith noted that "many green materials are not as good as carbon fiber materials" because of their weight.

"Certainly no F1 team is going to use them unless you legislate for their use," he said.


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