Electric cars have revolutionized the automotive industry in terms of making cars more planet-friendly. But the Japanese Ministry of the Environment decided to take it even a step further by manufacturing a car made from plant-based materials.
A project undertaken by the Japanese government in conjunction with Kyoto University has built a supercar using cellulose nanofibers (CNF), a plant-derived material that’s one-fifth the weight of, and five times as strong, as steel. CNF is essentially made out of processed wood, resulting in a highly-condensed, lightweight and incredibly strong material that’s also recyclable.
Called the Nanocellulose Vehicle, or NCV, it’s said to reduce weight by around 10 percent compared to a car built from standard materials, and, in doing so, it saves about one person’s worth of household carbon emissions for a year.
The team is performing repeated tests on the car parts they’ve built, making sure they’ll last over the long term and meet materials specifications for the desired parts. So far, the team says results have been very promising, and a number of automakers, including divisions of Toyota, are investigating CNFs to determine whether production can be made cheap enough to include in mass production vehicles.