Covestro has announced that it is partnering with a team of students from the RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences in providing materials for development of a solar-powered electric car. The students are developing the car to participate in the World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia, which is considered to be the toughest solar car race in the world. Covestro is not only supporting the “Sonnenwagen” (German for solar car) project as both a material and technical service provider, but also as the Gold Sponsor. Team Sonnenwagen will be the only German car in the Challenger Class this year.
Covestro is using the Sonnenwagen project to test various materials under harsh climatic conditions prevailing along the race’s route. These include temperatures of up to 45° C, high UV radiation and high air dust content, which are typical conditions in Australia in October, when the race is scheduled. In addition, Covestro said the most important product application is a three-layer polyurethane coating from PPG, which is a leading global manufacturer of automotive coatings. The coating is particularly suited to application on body parts made of carbon fibre composites, the company noted.
The climate conditions have a significant impact on the top clear coat, said Covestro. It explained that the top clear coat is formulated with the bio-based hardener Desmodur eco N 7300 from its range, 70 % of whose carbon content is sourced from biomass. The Sonnenwagen also incorporates polyurethane and polycarbonate materials from Covestro, which contribute to the lightweight and aerodynamic design of the solar car.
Dr Markus Steilemann, Board Member – Innovation, and Chief Commercial Officer, Covestro, said as sustainability is part of the company’s strategy, it supports this project. He added that through this project young researchers want to show that innovative and sustainable mobility concepts are already possible today. Solar mobility can make a key contribution to protecting the climate and conserving fossil resources, noted Dr Steilemann.
The team is grateful for Covestro’s support and will benefit above all from its superior competence in materials, noted Hendrik Löbberding, First Chairman, Team Sonnenwagen. He added that the team already has experience with zero-emission mobility and feels well-equipped to take part in the competition with about 40 other teams from five continents.
The World Solar Challenge celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and is said to be the toughest solar race. Teams from all over the globe compete every two years in their homemade vehicles to win the 3,000 km race from Darwin to Adelaide – without using fossil fuel. Two members of Team Sonnenwagen raced an electric car and won in the e-CROSS Germany, which is a four-day, climate-neutral rally through North Rhine-Westphalia. Additionally about a month back, the Sonnenwagen members accompanied a team from Bochum in the European Solar Challenge 2016, a 24-hour race in solar cars.