Have you heard of Solar Voyager? It’s the name of a hand-built vehicle, made up of mostly recycled plastics and scrap metal, that the Dutch eco-adventurers Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde are taking to Antarctica. The couple’s mission: to promote the use of recycled materials and help put the circular economy on the map for their fellow countrymen.
An unusual truck with incredibly large, steel-reinforced tyres sits in a garage in Amsterdam, where husband-and-wife team Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde are conducting the final tests before they leave for Antarctica. Neither has a background in recycling but both agree it’s a waste of time waiting for legislation to catch up with today’s waste generation. ‘It’s time to take action ourselves,’ says Edwin. ‘We hope to inspire other people.’
The planned trip across the Antarctic ice with Solar Voyager has already made national headlines. The recycled truck will start off at Union Glacier Camp, from where the couple expect to drive 2 300 km to the South Pole and back again.
The maximum speed will be around 9 km per hour, according to Liesbeth, who says the average temperature will be 50 degrees below zero. Food typically supplied to astronauts will sustain them during their 40-day expedition.
Whatever happens, keep moving forward
The couple have taken Solar Voyager for several test drives in Iceland and along the Dutch coast. They stress that the truck is equipped with the latest electronics and communication systems, including ten rooftop solar panels and a satellite connection to their company Clean2Antartica in their home town of Zaandam.
Despite receiving some scepticism, Edwin and Liesbeth are optimistic about their journey, which is scheduled towards the end of the year. ‘People have told us it’s not possible. But we’re just going to do it, and we’ll see what happens. We are heading towards the future, even if we trip along the way,’ Edwin says.