Velozzi Hypercar will have a body boosted by spider silk
Spider silk is widely known to be one of nature's strongest and toughest materials. If everything works out as intended, an alfalfa-produced synthetic version of the stuff will be used in the construction of the Velozzi Hypercar … only 100 of which will be made.
The planned vehicle is the result of a collaboration between Roberto Velozzi and Dr. Randy Lewis.
Velozzi is a self-described inventor/designer who has worked with composite materials companies, auto racing teams, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Lotus. Lewis, on the other hand, is a professor of biology at Utah State University, where he studies spider silk proteins.
Previously, Dr. Lewis and colleagues succeeded in identifying the proteins used for all six of the different types of silk made by spiders. The scientists then created synthetic genes that produce large quantities of those proteins when placed in genetically engineered alfalfa plants.
In a process that has been commercialized by Utah-State-affiliated private biotech company Spidey Tek, the proteins are extracted from the leaves of the harvested plants via a "non-polluting, eco-friendly" technique. Those proteins are then purified and rendered into fibers which can be added to other materials in order to boost their strength and toughness – without a weight penalty.
Velozzi is CEO of Spidey Tek, and Lewis is its CSO (chief scientific officer). The company is already producing spider-silk-based products such as glues and medical devices, plus it even mixed the fibers with resin to create a one-off lightweight VTOL drone. In the Hypercar, the fibers will be mixed with the carbon fiber used in the vehicle's body and honeycomb-core monocoque chassis, among other places.
"Carbon fiber composites maintain their inherent strength and stiffness when blended with spider silk, yet gain improved fracture toughness," says Velozzi. "Harnessing this synergy between the high-performance nature of carbon fiber and spider silk will produce an enhanced composite for the next generation of high-performance, efficient, resilient vehicles."
As far as its non-spider-related specs go, the 2-seater, 2-door Hypercar will sport a bespoke high-revving naturally aspirated Formula 1 V-12 engine paired with a 6-speed manual F1 transmission. This power plant should produce 1,000 hp at 11,000 rpm, taking the vehicle to a top speed of 230 mph (370 km/h). Its target 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration time is 2.7 seconds.
Some of the car's other features include active front flaps for improved aerodynamics, electronically adjustable gas-hydraulic shocks and front/rear ride height, a tire pressure monitoring system, plus a leather or Alcantara interior along with carbon sport bucket seats. A more complete list can be found on the project website.
If you wish to be one of the 100 owners of a Velozzi Hypercar, be prepared to shell out US$3 million – Roberto Velozzi tells us that allocation has already started. You'll also have to be a bit patient, as he says that the first of the cars will be delivered in four to five years.