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F3 is made with carrots, powered by chocolate

Warwick RacecarMix together a bit of chocolate with some carrots, potatoes, flax and soybeans and what do you get? Pose that question to University of Warwick researcher Kerry Kirwan and the answer you’ll get is, “A Formula 3 race car that can do 125 mph around corners.”

One of five specialists named to give the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lectures, Kirwan will describe the work that led to the unique vehicle during the British Science Festival at the University of Surrey next week.

The Award Lectures recognise talented communicators with interesting stories to tell about their research.

“While I am pleased to have been honoured by this award lecture, this project has truly been a team effort bringing together several engineers,” Kirwan said. “It is not just of interest to the racing industry. It demonstrates how even the most technical and demanding engineering endeavours can draw on sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies in their design and development.”

The “WorldFirst Formula 3 racing car” is the first such vehicle to be designed and made from sustainable and renewable materials that could meet Formula 3 racing standards, except for its biodiesel engine. (Formula 3 cars currently cannot use biodiesel.) Configured to run on fuel derived from waste chocolate and vegetable oil, the car features a steering wheel made with carrots and other root vegetables, a bib of woven flax fibre and a racing seat composed of flax fibre and soybean oil foam.

“As original equipment manufacturers focus on decreasing engine emissions, to meet future CO2, the WorldFirst project proves that if you are going to wholeheartedly embrace the ‘green is great’ ethos you have to broaden your vision and have a strategy that stretches throughout the chain from the raw materials to the final disposal of the car,” said Steve Maggs, a member of the research team. “The project clearly demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package.”

The car is set to compete against other F3 vehicles later this autumn.

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