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Lina: the world’s first structural bio-based car

Interview with Yasmin Amel Gharib (TU/ecomotive, Eindhoven University of Technology)

Yasmin is 22 years old and she studies Human Technology Interaction. Together with her student team (mostly bachelor students) from Eindhoven University of Technology they built the electric car Lina. Lina is special, because it is the world’s first structural bio-based car. Today we asked Yasmin a few questions about her experience. Why did your team decide to develop Lina? We wanted to participate in the Shell Eco-Marathon 2017, in the electric urban concept car class. Our car had to be ultra fuel efficient. We also wanted it to seat four persons, be user-friendly and be ready for the future. Why did you use biomass for the entire car chassis, body and interior? The car should have a low carbon footprint over its lifetime. We looked for a material that is both strong and lightweight and uses much less energy to produce that what is common. Flax meets these requirements and in addition can be sourced regionally. Which bio-based materials did you use? We applied a combination of bio‐based composites and bio‐based plastics to create the car chassis. The bio-composite is made from flax, a plant that can be grown in any temperate climate. A honeycomb shaped core produced from poly lactic acid, a bio‐plastic made entirely from sugar beets, is placed in‐between two flax composite sheets to provide stiffness to the strong composite. How much land is needed to grow the flax you need to produce one car? To build one car, we need 3% of a flax hectare. What are the advantages of Lina? The material we have used to manufacture Lina is more sustainable than what is currently used in urban cars. Energy is saved in the production stage and Lina’s material can be recycled. Note that Lina is a concept car and needs a lot more development before you can compare it with other urban cars. What were the main challenges building Lina? Time. We just had 1.5 years to get from the first idea to a working prototype. The structural material used for the car body and interior did not exist yet in the required form. With the expertise of industrial partners we assembled all materials. It was a steep and time-consuming learning curve finding and combining the right materials, suppliers, pilot facilities, and expertise. Without the right spirit, perseverance, entrepreneurship, hard work and help from industrial partners we would not have made it. What are you the most proud of? We passed the Dutch roadworthiness tests, got a license plate and can drive Lina on the public road! We achieved great media coverage, across all channels and platforms (radio, TV, print, social). And we are proud that we could tell our story on sustainable material use to all generations, in particular younger kids. Yasmin, what made you personally decide to join the Lina student team? I wanted to gain practical experience with product development. I wanted to build something that is sustainable; it could have been a tractor or bicycle as well. At TU/ecomotive there were different student teams that I could choose from. I joined the Lina team because of its strong focus on sustainability. What suggestion would you give to young people who want to work in renewable resources and bio-based products? Please do so! With our project we not only want to inspire the industry to look for and apply more sustainable materials, but also make the public more aware. We know the innovative material we developed is suitable for more than just cars, so we hope people use our knowledge for a more bio-based future. Lastly, can you tell what is lying ahead? With a fresh student team we have already started to work on the next concept urban car, to push sustainability in mobility further. For sure it will be even more sustainable than Lina. What it will look like? Watch out for more news early 2018.


car, transport, sustainability