An algae-powered wooden motorcycle? The concept isn’t too far out, considering algae has been used to create everything from eco-friendly sneakers to living lamps that absorb CO2. There’s even an entire algae-powered building in Hamburg! Dutch designer Ritsert Mans and scientist Peter Mooij created a wooden motorcycle that runs on algae to increase the visibility of the lesser known fuel source. “For every part of the bike, I looked to what nature could provide me with,” said Mans, who built the frame and springs with wood. He used cork for the dampeners and hemp for reinforcement.
The team was interested in showcasing how algae oil could be potentially used in the future. So, they grew algae in saltwater, built a wooden motorcycle that runs on the stuff, then tested the concept on a local beach.
In his narration, Mans likens the experiment the pioneering era of the 1900’s. Back then, people had no idea what to expect in terms of the up-and-coming automotive landscape. Now that millions of citizens are making a collective effort to invest in renewable energy and sustainable initiatives, great advances are expected to take place.
“People don’t know what the world will look like 30 years from now in terms of transportation and energy,” Mans said, “but that uncertainty allows people to develop and build their own ideas.”
“Even though the single-sided swingarm seems to contrast with the ‘prehistoric’ material it is made of, it’s actually a full composite, with all sorts of directional fibers provided by nature,” he added.
Mans and Mooij wrote a book called The Thick Algae (or De Dikke Alg, in their native Dutch). Their wooden algae bike was made to accompany the resource. If you’d like to learn more about the project, watch Peter Mooij’s 2015 TED talk on algae oil:
Images via Ritsert Mans