May 7, 2009 Environmentally friendly vehicles conjure up thoughts of a Toyota Prius hybrid or maybe a vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells, but a Formula 3 racing car generally wouldn’t be the first thing to come to mind. This "WorldFirst Formula 3 car" unveiled by researchers at the University of Warwick might just change that impression - and it's eco-friendliness goes way beyond the bio diesel engine that drives it. The racer is powered by chocolate, steered by carrots, has bodywork made from potatoes and can still do 125mph around corners.

The WorldFirst Formula 3 car is constructed from a veritable farmer's market of plants and vegetables. This includes a race specification steering wheel derived from carrots and other root vegetables, a flax fiber and soybean oil foam racing seat, a woven flax fiber bib, mirrors made from potato starch, brake pads made from ground cashew nut shells, plant oil based lubricants and a bio diesel engine configured to run on fuel derived from waste chocolate and vegetable oil (any chocoholics complaining that there’s no such thing as waste chocolate should know the term refers to waste from chocolate factories, not the remainder of a chocolate bar that someone couldn’t finish). The car also incorporates a radiator coated in an emission destroying catalyst and meets all the Formula 3 racing standards with the exception of its bio diesel engine, as Formula 3 cars currently cannot use bio diesel.

The team has tested the car to around 60mph, (96kmh), and are making final adjustments to the engine in hopes of reaching speeds of over 144mph, (232kmh), when they hit the racetrack in a few weeks time. They also claim the 2.0-liter BMW turbo diesel engine can propel the car from 0-62mph, (100kmh) in under four seconds, proving it is possible to build a competitive racing car using technologies that are friendlier towards the environment.

It was this desire to show the industry just how much is possible such technologies that drove the team to build the car. While the main focus of car manufacturers has been decreasing engine emissions, the University of Warwick team broadened their vision to include the raw materials used to build the car, as well considering its final disposal. The result was a car that is 95% biodegradable and demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package.

The WorldFirst Formula 3 racing car took the University of Warwick team more than nine months to develop and cost around £150,000, (approx. USD$227,000 at time of publication). It will go on display at several races including the European Grand Prix and Britain's Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Anyone still doubting the existence of the chocolate powered Formula 3 car can check out the vid of the car in action below.

Darren Quick

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