On October 8, roughly 40 teams from five continents will participate in the 2017 World Solar Challenge in Adelaide, Australia. It is widely considered the world’s toughest solar race. One of those teams will be a group of students at RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany) called Team Sonnenwagen, which has partnered with Covestro on development of its solar-powered electric car.
“As sustainability is part of our strategy, we support this ambitious project, in which young researchers want to show that innovative and sustainable mobility concepts are already possible today,” says Dr. Markus Steilemann, Board Member for Innovation and Chief Commercial Officer of Covestro. “Solar mobility can make a key contribution to protecting the climate and conserving fossil resources. With our developments and this project partnership, we want to demonstrate our commitment to innovation and sustainability, but also to supporting junior talents.”
Covestro also says it wants to take advantage of the Sonnenwagen project to test various materials under the harsh climate conditions prevailing along the race’s route: temperatures of up to 113 degrees F, high UV radiation and a high air dust content are typical in Australia during the fall. The most important product application, Covestro says, is a three-layer polyurethane coating from PPG, a leading global manufacturer of automotive coatings. The coating is particularly suited to application on body parts made of carbon fiber composites.
The climate conditions, Covestro says, have a significant impact on the top clearcoat. It is formulated with Covestro’s bio-based hardener Desmodur® eco N 7300, 70 percent of whose carbon content is sourced from biomass. The Sonnenwagen also incorporates Covestro’s polyurethane and polycarbonate materials, which make the car lightweight and aerodynamic.
Covestro already has extensive experience using its innovative materials for solar mobility. As an official partner of the Solar Impulse project, it made a significant contribution to last year’s success of the first manned flight around the globe in an aircraft powered exclusively by solar energy.