The Lina electric car is too big to fit in your brown bin.

One of the biggest issues with the move towards eco-friendly hybrid and electric cars is the fact that a solid proportion of the electricity generated in the country comes from yucky coal and gas plants, or the fact that rare materials have to be mined to produce batteries.

You even have to consider the intensive industrial processes that produce the seemingly safe materials, like steel and aluminium.

Saving the planet isn't easy, but students at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have taken us one step closer by building an electric concept car out of plants and sugar beet. The new car, called Lina, weighs just 310kg and can carry four passengers at up to 50mph. 

Lina Bio-Composite Car
Lina Bio-Composite Car

Now for the science. The body, chassis and interior are made from a bio-based composite that has properties similar to fibreglass. A plant called flax adds a strong, fibre-based structure to the composite, while a bio-plastic made entirely from sugar beet is formed into a honeycomb-shaped core and placed between the composite flax sheets.

The only items on the car that aren't bio-based are the suspension, wheels and the car’s electric powertrain, which includes modular battery packs and a pair of electric motors.

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There's still some work to be done – the concept car looks like a block of cheese, and the fibreglass quality of the composite material that makes it strong and light also makes it a disaster in an accident. The Lina has't been crash-tested, but if it was put into production it would need some work to meet current legal standards. 

Initially shown at Shell's Eco-Marathon event in London earlier this year, Lina is now touring the Netherlands to raise awareness of the environment. A car you can grow in the garden? Sign us up.

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