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British Racing Green

Researchers at the University have created the world’s first renewable racing car.


Following recent concerns about the high costs of running competitive motor racing teams, and doubts in sponsors’ minds over the commercial value of their involvement, the viability of motor racing has been critically questioned.

Motor racing and automotive manufacturers are increasingly looking towards innovative solutions to maximise return on investment. This is at a time when the motor industry has to become more environmentally friendly while avoiding any compromises in performance.

With this in mind the University of Warwick team based in the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and the Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre decided to build a competitive racing car using environmentally sustainable components. Their aim was to show the industry just how much is possible using current environmentally sustainable technologies.

Sustainable and renewable

What they created is the first Formula 3 racing car designed and made from sustainable and renewable materials, putting the world first by effectively managing the planet’s resources. The WorldFirst Formula 3 racing car is powered by chocolate, steered by carrots, has bodywork made from potatoes and can still do 125mph around corners. The car meets all the Formula 3 racing standards, except for its biodiesel engine which is configured to run on fuel derived from waste chocolate and vegetable oil. Formula 3 cars currently cannot use biodiesel.

Ground-breaking

Dr Kerry Kirwan from the research team said ‘Components made from plants form the mainstay of the car’s make up, including a race specification steering wheel derived from carrots and other root vegetables, a flax fibre and soybean oil foam racing seat, a woven flax fibre bib, plant oil based lubricants and a biodiesel engine configured to run on fuel derived from waste chocolate and vegetable oil. It also incorporates a radiator coated in a ground-breaking emission destroying catalyst.’

The whole package

Asked why they had undertaken this project, Dr Steve Maggs added ‘As original equipment manufacturers focus on decreasing engine emissions, to meet future CO2, the WorldFirst project proves that if you are going to wholeheartedly embrace the ‘green is great’ ethos you have to broaden your vision and have a strategy that stretches throughout the chain from the raw materials to the final disposal of the car. The project clearly demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package.’

Myths

Project manager, James Meredith, summed up the feelings of the team when he said that ‘It’s been very exciting working on the project and important for our team to develop a working example of a truly ‘green’ motor racing car. The WorldFirst project dispels the myth that performance needs to be compromised when developing the sustainable motor vehicles of the future.’

Festival of Speed

WorldFirst had its first public outing in timed runs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009 which took place in July. James Meredith, who was the first person to drive the car at Goodwood said, ‘We were so excited to show our car at Goodwood, and it was a real thrill to be able to run it out on the track. We wanted to show the industry that it is possible to create a high-performance car in a sustainable way, I couldn’t wait to get out there and show people what it could do.’