The future of transportation?

Dutch Students Make Sustainable Car Using an Ultimaker 3D Printer

Sustainable car

Keep your eyes peeled next summer for a 3D printed sustainable car which is fueled by formic acid – a natural substance produced by ants.

Sustainable car runs on formic acid.
The model car which runs on formic acid (image: Team FAST)

Twenty three students from the Technical University (TU) of Eindhoven joined forces earlier this year to create Team FAST (Formic Acid Sustainable Transportation) in order to create a sustainable vehicle.

So far, they have managed to successfully fuel a model car with formic acid and they have now set their sights on building a full-size 3D printed car.

What makes the car sustainable?

The resources required for formic acid are used, but not consumed, meaning it is a sustainable and renewable fuel, and its use in the Team FAST car will be entirely emission neutral!

Dr. G. Filonenko developed the catalyst that can merge hydrogen and CO2 into formic acid and vice versa at high speed.

Team FAST with a model of their sustainable car.
Team FAST with a model of their sustainable car (image: Team FAST).

How are Team FAST using 3D printing?

As this will be the first formic acid powered car, Team FAST have decided to make the most of 3D printing technology. Team FAST member Max Wentzel said: “3D printing allows us to speed up the prototyping cycle significantly. Lots of parts are unique and have to be specifically designed. The fact that we can do that right inside our office is simply amazing.”

They started by using a 3D printer which was built by their team manager, Max Aerts. However, they decided to meet with Jan Willem Slijkoord, owner of CIORC, and Roger Sijlbing, Sales Manager Innofil3D, as they felt a higher standard of 3D printing materials was necessary. Slijkoord and Sijlbing were a great help to Team FAST and provided some of their recycled 3D printing filament. They also got in touch with Ultimaker who donated a 3D printer to this sustainable cause.

Marcella van den Burg, education chief at Ultimaker: “This project is amazing. Young entrepreneurial students that want to shake the (fuel) establishment are initiatives Ultimaker wants to support. The way these guys use 3D printing as tool really shows the possibilities of 3D printing. And of course we hope they will remember us when they hit it big with their idea.”

As well as these donation, Team FAST have also received  a €50,000 grant at the Open Mind conference in November 2015.

Watch out, as the team intend on unveiling a functional scale model on January 14th and a full-size prototype of their sustainable car will follow later in the year. However, the full sized model will require a 30kW system which is around one thousand times more powerful than their scale model! That means there are still a few technical problems to be solved.

To keep up to date with Team FAST, check out their website.