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The latest Nuna 6 solar powered vehicle, designed by a student team at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has been built over the last 18 months using materials from Evonik.
Its bodywork consists entirely of a fibre composite sandwich containing Rohacell structural foam, and its cockpit glazing of Plexiglas. Evonik explain that this makes the vehicle, weighing just 145 kg, the lightest that the Dutch team has ever built, and about twice as light as the first Nuna model of 2001.
Nuna 6 will participate in the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia in October, and the team hopes to be the first to cross the finish line of the 3,000 kilometre stretch.
The vehicle has a sandwich structure with carbon fibre-reinforced facings and a structural core of Rohacell polymethacrylimide (PMI) rigid foam. According to Evonik, this structure allows weight savings of 60% or more over conventional steel parts. They say the high rigidity of the foam also improves the inherent rigidity of the components and the high degree of design freedom allows, for example, realization of the extraordinarily favourable aerodynamic properties of the bodywork of the Nuna 6 solar vehicle.
Evonik say the crash properties of Rohacell have been tested at KTH Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering in Stockholm and the University of Cranfield, and by Lotus Engineering.
“We support the student teams with materials and our knowledge, and they in turn use their creative ideas to show us and the automotive industry what Rohacell can do,” says Stefan Plass, who is responsible for the business of high-performance foams at Evonik, explaining why Evonik sponsors about 20 student teams in Europe with Rohacell.
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