Advanced Engineering 2018

Covestro and Sonnenwagen Aachen Team Up for World Solar Challenge

20 June 2017

Covestro and Sonnenwagen Aachen Team Up for World Solar Challenge

A group of students at RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Germany, have developed a solar-powered electric car for the World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia this October.

To make their idea a reality, around 45 junior researchers established the Sonnenwagen Aachen association, with the support of their professors. Covestro, which has a long-term partnership with the university, is supporting the Sonnenwagen project as both a materials and technical services provider and Gold Sponsor. The two partners recently signed a cooperation agreement.

“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.”

“We are very grateful for Covestro’s support and will benefit above all from its superior competence in materials,” states Hendrik Löbberding, First Chairman of Team Sonnenwagen.

Covestro has already gained extensive experience using its materials for solar mobility. As an official partner of the Solar Impulse project, it contributed to the success of the first manned flight around the globe in an aircraft powered exclusively by solar energy.

Covestro 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 45°C, high UV radiation and a high air dust content are typical in October. The most important product application is a three-layer polyurethane coating from PPG, which is particularly suited to application on body parts made of carbon fibre composites.

The climate conditions have a significant impact on the top clearcoat. It is formulated with the bio-based hardener Desmodur eco N 7300 from Covestro, 70% of whose carbon content is sourced from biomass.

The Sonnenwagen further incorporates polyurethane and polycarbonate materials from Covestro, which contribute to the lightweight and aerodynamic design of the car.

The World Solar Challenge celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Teams from all over the world compete every two years to win the 3000 km race from Darwin to Adelaide – without using one drop of fuel. The Sonnenwagen from Aachen will be the only German car going to the starting line in the Challenger Class this year.

“We already have experience with zero-emission mobility and feel well-equipped to take part in the competition with the roughly 40 other teams from five continents,” says Hendrik Löbberding of Sonnenwagen Aachen.

Two members of the association raced an electric car in, and won, the e-CROSS Germany, a four-day, climate-neutral rally through North Rhine-Westphalia. The Sonnenwagen members also accompanied a team from Bochum in the European Solar Challenge 2016, a 24-hour race for solar cars.

Photo provided by Sonnenwagen Aachen/Covestro

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