Russian design student Nikita Konopatov has unveiled an innovative proposal for an environmentally friendly car with a body made from recyclable plastics. Created as a solution to the worldwide problem of air pollution and the ubiquity of plastics, the design exercise proposes a greener alternative to gas-powered vehicles. In addition to a hydrogen-powered engine, Konopatov has also given his proposed car a futuristic and playful form that looks more like an adorable spaceship than a standard sedan.

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rendering of black pod-like car with elongated wheels

Konopatov’s pod-like concept car was created as part of the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe, a Potsdam, Germany-based initiative for developing mobility concepts of the future. The shape of the proposed fuel-cell vehicle comprises a large cylindrical barrel that would house the driver flanked by two smaller cylindrical barrels in the front and back that roll to move the car.

Related: The Skai hydrogen-powered aircraft produces zero emissions

diagram of hydrogen-powered cars made of plastic

The designer’s utopian vision goes against the common critiques of hydrogen cars, which have been long dismissed as a viable option due to the expensive and energy-intensive processes to produce pure hydrogen as well as the lack of hydrogen fuel-delivery infrastructure. The vast majority of hydrogen today is produced by the high-carbon process of steam methane reforming. Currently, there are only three major models of hydrogen cars available on the market: the 2015 Toyota Mirai, the Hyundai Next and the Honda Clarity.

diagram of pod-like cars made of plastic

“Today, there is a global problem — environmental pollution,” Konopatov said in a email statement to Inhabitat. “Every day we produce and use something that immediately becomes garbage after use. One of the most significant problems is single — use plastic and exhaust gases. Disposable plastic can be recycled and used as a material for the car body. A car with a hydrogen engine can reduce the amount of exhaust gases. The exhaust of a hydrogen-powered car is environmentally friendly. Electric vehicles do not pollute the air, but the production of electric vehicles pollutes the environment, which is mainly due to the energy-intensive production of batteries.”

+ Nikita Konopatov

Images via Nikita Konopatov