Umeco Co-Develop Lola-Drayson Prototype FIA Formula E World Championship Car

06 May 2012

Recycled composites and flax reinforced composites, products born out of joint development programmes involving Umeco, have been used to manufacture parts for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV, an all-electric prototype racing car demonstrating the potential of sustainable ‘green’ technologies in the motorsport industry.

Jointly developed by Lola Group and Drayson Racing Technologies, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV is destined to take part in the FIA Formula E World Championship Series in 2013.

Umeco explain that Lola’s use of recycled composite materials follows the completion of a collaborative research and development programme involving Umeco, WMG at the University of Warwick and ELG Carbon Fibre Carbon fibres from out of life  MTM49 epoxy prepreg were reclaimed by ELG and then re-impregnated with Umeco’s MTM49 toughened epoxy resin. Umeco say they, along with WMG and Lola, have performed a series of tests to determine the mechanical and impact properties of the material, with comparisons being drawn against the original virgin prepregs. Tests showed minimal loss of strength and similar fibre stiffness to virgin prepreg. Lola has since manufactured parts for its Lola-Drayson B12/69EV using this product.

The application of flax-reinforced composites is the result of a joint research and development programme involving Umeco, WMG and Composites Evolution. In this programme, Umeco say that WMG carried out extensive research and testing supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC EP/E007252/1) and Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (WIMRC), Composites Evolution supplied the woven flax material, and Umeco impregnated the material with its MTM28 and MTM49 epoxy resins.

Dr James Meredith, Research Fellow at WMG, worked closely with Dr Sophie Cozien-Cazuc, Project Manager at Umeco, and Lola engineers Sam Carter and Ed Collings to develop the flax-reinforced composites. Development activity focussed around Umeco’s MTM28 and MTM49 toughened epoxy resins, originally developed specifically for the manufacture of components requiring high damage tolerance. Lola was involved from the onset, setting the performance criteria for the structures they planned to manufacture. Umeco explain that Lola have since produced a range of parts for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV using MTM28/Biotex Flax and MTM49/Biotex Flax, and have achieved outstanding results.

Umeco claim that flax fibres have similar mechanical properties to glass fibres, but with much lower weight and environmental impact, and they also have extremely good vibration damping and insulating characteristics. The use of renewable flax composites in ‘green’ vehicles provides a nice synergy and, with this eco race car, Lola has shown that flax can even be used in high-performance, cutting-edge applications.

Through the application of recycled and flax-reinforced composites, as well as inductive charging, composite battery power, moveable aerodynamics and electrical regenerative damping, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV racing car exhibits sustainable ‘green’ technologies, making it one of the world’s most innovative ‘cleantech’ motorsport projects.

The B12/69EV, which develops 850 horsepower, aims to be the fastest electric-powered racecar to lap a circuit.

Dr Sophie Cozien-Cazuc, Collaborative Research & Technology Project Manager, Umeco said “Umeco is mindful of the impact that its operations have on the environment and is keen to promote the application of recycled composites and sustainable bio-composites. Accordingly, we actively engage with organisations seeking to develop cost-effective solutions aimed at reclaiming raw materials from our prepregs.”

Sam Smith, Lola Cars International Communications Manager, said "Working with WMG and Umeco on some of the innovative composites and flax solutions proved to be a very productive experience for Lola engineers. The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV is all about the future of racing and ensuring that sustainability can be vibrant and exciting. The consortium of companies involved in this project has shown that cutting-edge technology and responsible material design can go hand in hand and create a sound basis for future generations of engineers."

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