Racing green - The world's first fully sustainable racing car

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Can the idea of 'green motorsport' actually work? Yes, according to EPSRC funded researcher, Dr Kerry Kirwan at the University of Warwick, who led the research team which designed and built the worlds first fully sustainable Formula 3 racing car.

The car is made from woven flax, recycled carbon fibre, recycled resin and carrot pulp for the steering wheel. It runs on biofuel made from chocolate and animal fats and is lubricated with plant oils. But it's not just an environmentally friendly car, it is also fast. The car has a top speed of 135 mph, can achieve 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and is turbo charged to give it more torque.

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Dr Kerry Kirwan (KK) – University of Warwick

Hi my name’s Kerry Kirwan and this is the world’s first fully sustainable Formula 3 racing car.

What we’ve got here is the most sustainable racing car in the world at the moment which is made of lots of waste materials and recyclable materials that otherwise end up in land fill and we’ve turned them to good use and, more importantly we’ve shown that being sustainable and green can be incredible sexy, fun and fast.

The public at the moment perceive motorsport to be quite a wasteful industry. They see Formula 1, they see cars in Monaco, they see pit lanes full of expensive cars that are churning out lots of emissions and what we are trying to do is show ways for the future for people to race but be green.

The barge board is a 3 dimensional woven hemp product. We’ve also got a flax bib there, that’s the same stuff that you make tablecloths or napkins out of. The air intake in the radiator actually has a catalytic converter on board that converts low level ozone into oxygen as your driving along.

The steering wheel is made of carrot pulp that comes from the soup or juicing industry. We’ve also got side pods, engine cover made from recycled carbon fibre from the aerospace industry that would otherwise end in landfill and we are using a resin from PET bottles so that’s lemonade and coke bottles that would otherwise be incinerated or thrown away. And under here is an engine that runs on biofuel which is brewed from waste materials such as chocolate, animal fats or vegetable oils and the whole car is lubricated with plant oils.

Tim Scott (TS) - Scott Racing

My involvement with the project has been to build and remap the engine so that it will run on biodiesel. In fact with this engine we have started from scratch. We’ve changed the engine management unit and made it so that it that would work very well on the biodiesel fuel that we are using. It’s challenging to make a performance car run on biofuel because you actually do get less power and energy out of the fuel but, there are some aspects of the fuel that do actually help us along the way that’s why its important to tune the car for the fuel we are using.

[Button is pressed which starts the engine and engine sounds can be heard]

Aaron Steele (AS) - Aaron Steele Racing

The engine has more torque which means it has more push. When you put your foot down it doesn’t accelerate quicker but it’s got more initial push and that results in, you know, a very limited amount of power in a very short space of time. A lot of power but in a very little time, so you have to be kind of a little bit more wary of that and also remember that it is turbo charged so you have to wait for the power to build up before you get your full whack.

Dr James Meredith (JM) – University of Warwick

We’ve had a great response from the public. The response from the industry’s been slightly different. Initially very, very sceptical, but now I think people are beginning to realise that it actually might have some sort of future and people are beginning to actively get involved in it I think.


It did some hill climbs at Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, it’s been to the British Grand Prix, it’s going to the European Grand Prix and we have also had some very famous drivers give her the thumbs up including Adam Carroll A1 GP champion, and Jenson Button, who could be the next Formula 1 world champion.


And we had Lewis Hamilton who put his autograph on the car and I think, you know, he was pleasantly surprised that parts were made from carrots and soya beans I think and yeah so it’s been fun and I think it gets a good response from everywhere it goes.


There is a wide recognition in the motor sport industry that it needs to be greener to be more relevant to society and therefore to get the viewing figures and sponsorship that allows them to go racing. And this is the means of showing people how it can be done.

We are very environmentally friendly, we are not damaging the environment but we are still very competitive in motorsport terms.


The point of this is to demonstrate that green or sustainable materials can actually have a place in high performance vehicles. Motor racing can be completely green. We can have a motor car which is made up of entirely sustainable materials.