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Archive for June, 2010

British Racing Greens, Carrots and Potatoes

They say that the race track is the place where new technologies are given a trial by fire before being applied to ordinary, everyday cars like you and I drive to pick up the kids from school or to buy groceries. From an environmentally friendly perspective, this is good news, thanks to the hot new number from World First Racing that is leading the world of Formula 3 racing – in green performance if not in overall speed and handling.  This British racing company is certainly putting a new twist onto the traditional concept of “British Racing Green”. The University of Warwick is behind this project, and if all goes well, I’d like to see some of this car’s features incorporated into the cars reviewed by Private Fleet one day.

The idea was to make a race-capable car from recycled and/or renewable resources as much as possible, inside and out. WorldFirst’s car, with the carrots on the side instead of chequered flags, features the following:

  • The front wing end plate is made from a potato starch core and a flax fibre shell, as are the wing mirrors.
  • The side pod is made from glass fibre (which can be sourced from recycled materials) and resin from recycled bottles.
  • The lubricants inside the engine are all based on vegetable oils rather than on mineral oil.
  • The seat is made from a flax fibre shell over soy bean oil foam and recycled polyester.
  • The steering wheel is made from a polymer created from carrots and other root vegetables. This is designed to be light and tough, and
  • Sexiest of all, the engine runs on biodiesel that is refined not just from the usual vegetable oil but from chocolate oil.
  • The radiators have a catalyst that converts ozone (which is great in the upper atmosphere where it does a wonderful job of stopping us getting sunburned but is downright vile lower down where you can breathe it) into oxygen (which you should breathe regularly if you want to stay alive).

The car is still undergoing testing, but hasn’t quite hit the race track in a formal race, although it has been put through its paces at the track – see the video of it in action.

The car doesn’t just use vegetable and recycled odds and ends. For example, it uses cast iron for the brakes, as this gives maximum stopping power but from a recyclable source, rather than from carbon, which is harder to recycle (but not impossible – other parts of the racing car use recycled carbon). At the moment, though, they’re working on brake pads made from cashew nut shells.

Find out more about the World First car and keep track of how it’s going at the official website,

The environment and all that stuff.

It is quite remarkable just how tragic the BP oil disaster has become.  The expanse of the oil spill has played havoc on nature’s balance.  But it is events like this that makes you question – just how far will humans go?

Isn’t it about time that we made some massive changes to the phenomenal rate at which we are using up the globe’s natural resources?  I mean, we all love to drive cars but where on earth are we going to draw the line when it comes to unsustainable usage of the earth’s natural resources? 

Oil is just one of the significant resources that humans have, perhaps, overused for decades now.  Logging of native timbers in the Amazon is another example of unsustainable exploitative use of a finite resource.  And the timber issue is very serious!  There seems to be no significant exercise of restraint used on the logging of timber from out of the Amazon.  Again, like oil, the logging of native timber is a money-driven exploitation.

It is wonderful to see the steps made to improving carbon emissions from vehicles.  Particularly over the last five years, this has been evident.  There is still a long way to go; however, the prominent motor-vehicle manufacturers are making a credible improvement on shrinking the carbon footprint globally.

Is it a foregone conclusion that the oil resources around the globe will be completely used up by 2050?  How long will it ever take to create them again? 

This is sobering science to contemplate.  So, where to from here?  Can governments around the world actually unite on conserving and protecting our natural global resources?

A number of quirky ways of conserving our resources have already revealed themselves through some very interesting and distinguished people.  Solar-powered cars, solar panelling on roads to generate the energy to move vehicles, wind power, going back to sail boats (but with today’s technology), hydrogen cars and steam-powered cars to name a few.

And have you heard of the newly developed cars in America to be run on water?  By using sea water from out of the Gulf, cars just might be getting some quite good mileages!