zero-waste couple plan antarctic expedition in plastic solar-powered wagon

zero-waste couple plan antarctic expedition in plastic solar-powered wagon

in an adventurous project in which zero waste is central, liesbeth and edwin ter velde are planning to drive the solar voyager, a buggy made from waste plastic powered entirely by solar power, all the way to the south pole. the project, known as clean2antarctica, is part of the dutch couple’s support for a zero waste lifestyle and their objectives to show plastic as a useful resource.

antarctic expedition runs on solar power in wagon made from waste plastic clean 2 antarctica solar voyager

images courtesy of clean2antarctica



to build the solar voyager out of plastic waste, the couple designed a new hexagonal building block known as a hexcore using recycled materials. starting with their own trash they explored ways to make use of the large amounts of plastic being thrown away. so they shredded the pieces and melted it into the filament that feeds 3D printers before applying the same process at an industrial scale. with forty 3D printers they printed 4000 hexcores, a building block inspired by the honeycomb, designed to be light and strong.

antarctic expedition runs on solar power in wagon made from waste plastic clean 2 antarctica solar voyager



these building blocks make up the structure of the solar voyager, its shell formed of hexcores that have been puzzled together. the four-wheeled buggy tows a pair of two-wheeled trailers that suport 10 bifacial solar panels and also store supplies, including 47 days worth of food. for water the team plans to make use of the one natural resource they have in abundance – ice. melting it using six solar vacuum tubes removing the heavy burden of carrying water supplies. meanwhile, infrared windows are also installed in the cab, which help to absorb sunlight and keep the cab warm.

antarctic expedition runs on solar power in wagon made from waste plastic clean 2 antarctica solar voyager



the solar voyager weighs 1,485 kg (3,274 lb), measures 16 m (52 ft) long and moves at the modest speed of 8 km/h (5 mph), maximizing efficiency of the power generated by the solar panels. tests in iceland helped the team behind clean2antarctica to fine tune the vehicle for survival in rough, icy conditions, especially when it embarks on antarctica in late november. the journey of the solar voyager will take place over five weeks, seeing the team set out from their antarctica base camp and drive to the south pole. from their they will turn around and return, completing a journey of 2,400 km (1,491 miles) on arrival back at base camp. along the way they’ll endure summer temperatures of -30ºC (-22ºF) and 24-hour sunlight, conditions which should help them in maintaining energy supplies.


video by clean2antarctica



antarctica contains 90% of the world’s ice and belongs to no one,‘ they explain. ‘it is zero waste by law, making it the perfect destination for a zero waste adventure. we can learn from antarctica and make sure it stays that way. we also want to raise awareness for the antarctic treaty. if not extended in 2048, the continent will be opened for commercial can follow along with the solar voyager’s progress on their blog.

antarctic expedition runs on solar power in wagon made from waste plastic clean 2 antarctica solar voyager

  • The words ‘wind’ and ‘storm’ are missing from the text but, alas, not from the Antarctic…

    TNS says:
  • reminds me of the 1930s snow cruiser

    peter says:

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