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Dutch Students Created an EV That Can Actually Clean Carbon From the Air While It Drives

The Eindhoven University of Technology students hope their prototype will inspire automakers.

Front 3/4 view of TU/ecomotive's Zem EV TU/ecomotive

Students at Eindhoven University of Technology didn’t just want to build a car that wouldn’t pollute the air, they wanted to create one that could actually clean it.

The Dutch college’s TU/ecomotive team has just unveiled a battery-powered prototype that absorbs CO2, according to New Atlas. Their EV, dubbed the Zem, is equipped with a special filter that cleans up the CO2 produced by other cars on the road.

The Zem was born out of a challenge to build a completely carbon neutral vehicle. This goal guided every step of the EV’s development over the last year. Its monoque and body panels were 3-D printed to reduce waste and minimize the production of CO2. Recycled plastics were also used throughout the exterior and interior. The cabin also has a modular infotainment system and other modular electronics. The car’s powertrain, which consists of modular battery packs and a 22-kWh motor, also makes use of regenerative braking to increase efficiency.

The Zem EV and the TU/ecomotive team

The Zem EV and the TU/ecomotive team  TU/ecomotive

The real difference maker, though, is the vehicle’s special CO2 filter. The air that passes through the Zem’s grille flows into its “direct air capture technology,” which the students are reportedly now trying to patent. The system includes a filter that is able to absorb two kg of CO2 for every 20,000 miles it travels. That may not sound like much, but if the technology was embraced by mainstream automaker and installed on cars, it could eventually start to make a real difference.

Even if the technology isn’t adopted, the team hope that their EV can inspire automakers to start making cleaner vehicles. “We want to tickle the industry by showing what is already possible,” a representative said in a statement. “If 35 students can design, develop and build an almost carbon-neutral car in a year, then there are also opportunities and possibilities for the industry.”


The Zem EV and the TU/ecomotive team


The Zem is the second intriguing zero-emission vehicle we’ve seen come out of the Eindhoven University of Technology in as many years. Last year, another team of students created the Stella Vita, a solar -powered teardrop trailer that could travel up to 450 miles a day. We can’t wait to see what the school’s students come up with next.

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