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Meet the ZEM: A zero emission vehicle that cleans the air while driving

In addition to the ability to capture carbon, the ZEM is primarily made of 3D-printed parts crafted from recycled plastics.

A zero emission electric vehicle (ZEV) with the capability of cleaning the air as it drives might be a reality in the future. A group of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands has created a vehicle they believe is the first step toward achieving such a goal.

The students have created a Zero Emission Mobility or ZEM, vehicle which is fully electric, battery-powered, and can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) while it drives. The ZEM uses two filters capable of capturing up to 2kg, or about 4.4lbs of CO2, while traveling over 20,000 miles. According to data provided by the team, they expect 10 ZEMs to absorb the same amount of carbon as an average-sized tree.

In addition to the ability to capture carbon, the ZEM is primarily made of 3D-printed parts crafted from recycled plastics. This process further cuts down on emissions created during production. The ZEM uses a Cleantron lithium-ion battery pack.

“It is really still a proof-of-concept, but we can already see that we will be able to increase the capacity of the filter in the coming years,” said team leader Louise de Laat. “Capturing CO2 is a prerequisite for compensating for emissions during production and recycling.”


The hope is that the ingenuity shown by a group of students will create momentum in the industry to push further progress in creating similar vehicles. According to team member Nikko Okkels, “We want to tickle the industry by showing what is already possible. If 35 students can design, develop, and build an almost carbon-neutral car in a year, then there are also opportunities and possibilities for the industry.”

The students are working on obtaining a patent for their carbon filter, and the ZEM itself is busy touring colleges and universities across the United States.

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