Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Green light for green racing car -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Kerry Kirwan explains how to build a Formula One racing car with a top speed of 135 mph out of old
carrots and how to power it with waste chocolate, cheese and wine. He hopes that this green car
building technology will filter down to domestic vehicles one day.

Show Transcript |

Hide Transcript


Sounds of racing cars..

Robyn Williams: You wouldn't take that racket to be an indication of green power, would you.
Formula One or Formula Three racing cars are the polar opposite normally, but here's a racing car
with a steering wheel made of carrots and a fuel based on wine and chocolate. Dr Kerry Kirwan has
won the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award for his efforts.

Kerry Kirwan: This is the world first Formula Three racing car. It's one of the greenest cars
certainly in racing...

Robyn Williams: It looks like a straightforward one of those fast cars you have in racing.

Kerry Kirwan: It is a fast car that you have in racing, but the idea was it would not only be a
fast car that could race, it would be green and hopefully do some good to the environment rather
than just be deleterious.

Robyn Williams: You've got carrots on it, you've got chocolate on it, you've got some Australian come?

Kerry Kirwan: We've used natural materials where possible, we've used recycled materials, we've
managed to use waste materials that always end up in landfill or water courses that cause problems
to get rid of. So we've been as creative as we can, and we've proved that you can use these
materials in quite a demanding application. The steering wheel, for example, is made of carrots,
derived from carrot waste, so pulp from the soup or the juicing industry. You can extract some
interesting materials from there and turn it into hard, stiff materials that we can use in steering

Robyn Williams: And what about what you put in the engine itself, the oil to run it?

Kerry Kirwan: The oil for the engine is actually derived from vegetable oil, so it's the sort of
stuff that you cook your chips in. And the actual engine is fuelled by biodiesel and one of the
variants derived from waste chocolate and waste wine or waste cheese material that you can ferment
into an alcohol and make diesel with.

Robyn Williams: Where do you get your waste chocolate and wine?

Kerry Kirwan: The waste chocolate and wine industry. There is actually a disposal industry that
gets rid of these materials.

Robyn Williams: I see, you're not sneaking out behind restaurants and supermarkets.

Kerry Kirwan: We've had lots of interest from different companies who would like us to take their
waste materials as an alternative to what they're having to do with it, but at the moment we're
working with the guys who have got those materials, they're contracted to get rid of them. So we're
looking at ways of turning them from a waste material that you pay to get rid of into something
that actually you could do good with and perhaps earn a bit more revenue from.

Robyn Williams: It's all very well to have a wonderful car that's made of carrots and various other
objects like that and which has green oil to run on, but does it work? Have you tested it

Kerry Kirwan: We've tested it quite a lot. She's done some demonstrations at Goodwood at the
Festival of Speed, so she climbed the hill with Adam Carroll A1 GP world champion driving her. And
she's going to have her first competitive racing outing in an F3 race hopefully in the middle of
October. We've got them to waive the rules so as we can demonstrate her, and the driver won't earn
any points from it but he's keen.

Robyn Williams: How fast?

Kerry Kirwan: She's as fast as an F3 car. That's somewhere between 130, 135, she does that. And
we've actually made a couple of tweaks to the gear box which will give us a bit of extra on top.

Robyn Williams: Tell me, it's all very well to have private cars, ones that the citizens use
because...zillions of them, which will make a decided impact on the carbon emissions and all the
rest of it, but what about something so exclusive and rare, how much will that have an impact on
the general case?

Kerry Kirwan: Formula One is an extreme example. Everyone thinks motor racing is Formula One and
actually motor racing...there's hundreds of different categories and different levels. Formula
Three is not much below Formula One and we're using this (excuse the pun) as a vehicle to
demonstrate some technologies that you could easily filter down through lots of other parts of
motor racing and also into the mainstream automotive. There is a misconception that a lot of F1
technologies do automatically go into your cars but actually that isn't really the case anymore. So
hopefully this might be a way of getting back to the more traditional starting in high echelons of
motor sport and filtering it down into your regular vehicles.

Robyn Williams: And what about your own speciality, what are you doing on this car specifically in
terms of engineering and leadership?

Kerry Kirwan: It was sort of my idea with a colleague and we look after getting the right people
in, getting good engineers on board and overseeing it, and we do get to have a drive every now and

Robyn Williams: A final question; what made you think of carrots for a steering wheel?

Kerry Kirwan: Again, because we weren't coming at it with any preconceptions or any rule book we
could be as whacky as we wanted, and that was one of them, one of the materials that we saw, we
thought it would be a good idea, and we got a hold of the company that was looking at it, and the
rest, as they say, is history.

Robyn Williams: Thank you and good luck.

Kerry Kirwan: Okay, thank you very much.

Robyn Williams: Dr Kerry Kirwan, University of Warwick, with his prize-winning carroty racing car.


Kerry Kirwan

University of Warwick


Robyn Williams


David Fisher

Radio National often provides links to external websites to complement program information. While
producers have taken care with all selections, we can neither endorse nor take final responsibility
for the content of those sites.