Biodegradable car made from rattan and bamboo


April 21, 2011

The Phoenix is a concept car, with a biodegradable body built from rattan and bamboo (Photos courtesy Kenneth Cobonpue)

The Phoenix is a concept car, with a biodegradable body built from rattan and bamboo (Photos courtesy Kenneth Cobonpue)

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While the metal bodywork of cars certainly can be melted down and recycled, the process requires a lot of energy, and therefore isn't entirely eco-friendly. Making cars out of easier-to-recycle materials is certainly one approach to the problem, but designers Kenneth Cobonpue and Albrecht Birkner have another idea – cars with sustainably-sourced, biodegradable bodies. To that end, they have created the Phoenix, a full-sized rolling chassis made from rattan and bamboo.

Cobonpue and Birkner built the 12.75-foot (3.89-meter) two-seater Phoenix in just ten days. Besides the bamboo and rattan, some steel and carbon fiber were also used in its construction. Although it has no motor, Birkner told us that they plan to add one, and are currently collaborating with engineers on the details.

Its skin is intended to last several years, or about the length of time that most people in industrialized nations typically keep a new car. If owners found themselves wishing to keep it longer, they could simply get a new body installed on the existing frame.

Needless to say, the Phoenix is just a concept, and would no doubt require numerous refinements before it could be considered roadworthy. Cobonpue, however, believes that it represents a future in which vehicles could incorporate skins made from woven organic fibers combined with composite materials.

People from the automobile industry also seem to like it.

"We recently had the great chance to exhibit the Phoenix concept car at the Milan Design Week 2011," said Birkner. "The overall reaction was surprisingly good and people really liked the concept and design of the car. Especially people from the car industry like Audi, Lamborghini, Citreon and Renault loved the refreshing design and realization of the idea."

Source: Inhabitat

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

As long as there is a human inside it, it does have a motor. Add some pedals, lose some weight on the tyres and voilà, a bamboo social tandem :D

Mats Leidö

Interesting... but a reverse trike layout is more stable and safer handling. IT looks to be a simple switch... keep the body design, which flows wonderfully.

Mike Barnett

Make it of hemp...didn\'t I see something like that in a Cheech and Chong movie?

Art Derfall

Do you know? This is such a different out-of-the-box concept that it\'s difficult to comment, but I do agree with Mike on the trike layout.


Hemp. Have you ever seen Henry Ford\'s Hemp car? Hemp is strong, and thousans of products can be made from it. Jobs too!


Yes, bring back the age of the \"Woodie\". A California beach crowd favorite. Natural wood beats any color of paint. Lightweight bamboo and hemp fabric for the upholstery with carbon fiber for extra strength for the road. Where is the website? I must keep up with this concept.


\"GREAT\" Go Green....

Lihayati Mardiyah

Yeah, I can just see this POS flying apart all over the interstate highways. Quit wasting time on crap like this and design economic vehicles that don\'t use Gas or diesel fuel.

Gary Greenwood

Hey, Gary, live in the real world much? Ever heard of \"cradle to grave\"? Local transportation? Traffic jams? Repair bills for fender-benders?

The best place to start with this concept car would be in kid\'s toys. If the kid wants it in Barbie Pink or GI Joe Camo or Superhero Silver, fine, whatever. At least it won\'t be PLASTIC.

The Die Hard
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