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Project Takes Aim at World Speed Record

26 November 2002

Dublin-based Ashland Specialty Chemical Company and The Ohio State University (OSU) have joined forces on a project to attempt to break the world speed record for electric vehicles.

Dubbed the ""Buckeye Bullet,"" this student-engineered vehicle is part of an effort spearheaded by the OSU Center for Automotive Research and Intelligent Transportation (CAR-IT). Ashland's commitment to the Buckeye Bullet and CAR- IT totals more than $20,000 in materials and more than 300 professional hours. David Perdue, Ashland staff laboratory technician who has served as liaison to the Buckeye Bullet project since its inception, traveled with the team to their recent trial at the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, where the vehicle reached a top speed of 241 mph -- falling less than five miles short of the 245.5 mph speed record. The vehicle, driven by professional race car driver Craig Taylor, was still the fastest speed registered in an electric vehicle engineered by students.

""It is rewarding to watch the project evolve from design, to construction and finally challenging the speed record,"" remarked Perdue. ""Cutting-edge technology combined with the team's drive to succeed has made our involvement an easy decision.""

Ashland was initially drawn to the Buckeye Bullet project because it couples state-of-the-art vacuum infusion processing and polyester resins with ""green vehicle"" technology, where the car relies on batteries rather than fossil fuel for power.

The vehicle features a carbon-fiber composite body vacuum infused with one of Ashland's epoxy vinyl ester resin due to its high strength-to-weight ratio -- a vital requirement for a high- performance vehicle focused on the record books. The vehicle's tooling utilized a polyester resin for overall strength and durability. Finally, the student engineers required a special resin that could withstand the extreme heat conditions exerted from the battery packs during their record attempts and Ashland delivered by supplying an appropriate isophthalic polyester resin.

""This relationship which initially started as need for a material has turned into a dynamic three-dimensional project,"" said Todd Rodrick, OSU senior engineering student and Buckeye Bullet team manager. ""Without Ashland's total involvement and commitment there is no way we could have completed this vehicle, much less challenge the world speed record. We consider Ashland a close friend-of-the-family.""





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