This Wooden Motorcycle is Powered by Algae

The men behind this technology are breaking the norms.


It has long been the dream of scientists and engineers to manufacture oil from products other than fossil fuels. The best candidate is seawater because of its abundance, but there is no efficient and scalable technology available just yet.

Peter Mooij, a scientist, has a different material in mind: algae. He has worked on extracting oil from algae all his life and now he seems to have achieved success. Sort of.

Mooij has worked with Dutch designer Ritsert Mans who is also obsessed with sustainability.

In 2015, Mans developed a motorbike that is mostly made of wood – from its frame, handlebars and swingarms.


Photo by Ritsert Mans

“The challenge for me was with every part of the bike to look to what nature could provide me,” Mans told New Atlas.

“Like cork for the damper and hemp spring for some reinforcement. With all my designs it should spark my imagination.”

Mans used birch for the frame and seat which was bent using steam. This is reinforced with hemp fiber for two point headset, joined together using wood glue.

The single-sided swingarm is made with birch and oak, with an oiled cork/oak damper and a cork insert to provide a compression zone in the spring. The rear single-sided swingarm is made from solid oak, with some cork between the arm and the frame.


Photo by Ritsert Mans

Video by Ritsert Mans

It is powered by a 500cc single cylinder fuel engine, driving a belt to the rear wheel.

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Mooij is the one filling the 0.4-liter tank with his “microalgae oil.”

He explained to New Atlas, “Just like olives, microalgae produce oil. And just like olives, we can extract this oil from the algae. This oil can be used in a simple diesel engine without any pretreatment.”

He added, “Algae oil has some great advantages. Algae do photosynthesis and by this process algae convert CO2 from the atmosphere into oil. If this oil is burnt in Rits’ motorcycle CO2 is emitted, but the amount of CO2 emitted exactly equals the amount of CO2 the algae took up from the atmosphere.”


Photo by Ritsert Mans

Both Mans and Mooij are still working towards a better model of the wooden motorcycle and on the scalability of the microalgae oil, respectively.

Source: Design Boom | New Atlas

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This Wooden Motorcycle is Powered by Algae

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