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Stichting Rootbox: Sustainable Design Through Collaboration, With or Without Wind Turbine

A hot pink wind turbine turned above one paddock at Shell Eco-marathon Europe this year; it was the stall of the team from Inholland University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. The students, all studying aeronautical engineering, have designed a vehicle with a detachable rear end that can be changed in few minutes and converted to a wind-powered vehicle.

There’s no category for wind-powered cars in Shell Eco-marathon, but for the past five years, the Inholland students have been competing in an annual competition called Racing Aeolus, which will take place in August in Den Helder, the Netherlands.

For Shell Eco-marathon, even though the team couldn’t use direct wind power, they sought to have as green a footprint as possible. For fuel, they used ethanol, because it can be processed from agricultural waste. Eighty-percent of the vehicle material is cork, a waste product of the wind industry. Senior Toon Gerritsen explains that the car is optimized for low carbon emissions, not necessarily low mileage. “It’s about the whole eco-footprint of the car, not only about mileage,” he explains.  Still, the car achieved 522.68 km/l (1,229.68 mpg) on the Eco-marathon track.

When the wind turbine is attached to the vehicle, it is called the Anemo, named for the Anemoi, the Greek wind gods. Seeking a similar deified name for their turbine-less vehicle, the team decided to call it Apollo, also hearkening back to the daring of the U.S. space program.

Toon and fellow senior, Thys Metz, talk about the car in the video, and the team organization, called Stitchting Rootbox (Rootbox Foundation); its goal is sustainable design through collaboration.