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Putting Innovative Coatings and Adhesives to the Test

  • Thursday, 12th September 2019
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

A team of 45 students from RWTH Aachen University and FH Aachen will showcase a new solar-powered racing car at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019.

In what is probably the toughest solar race on the planet, teams from all over the world will compete to overcome the 3,000-kilometer stretch from Darwin to Adelaide. The starting line displays a range of innovative materials from Covestro, the main sponsor of this year’s project, who are utilising this opportunity to test a variety of materials under the harsh climatic conditions of the track. 

The Sonnenwagen Team from Aachen have spent two years fine-tuning the construction of their new speedster, paying particular attention to streamlined structures, smooth surfaces and feather-light materials.

In the field test: car paint with bio-based hardener

The Covestro Sonnenwagen is furnished with a two-layer polyurethane car refinish paint system from PPG. It imparts a smooth, high-gloss surface to the car body and resists the harsh climatic conditions. It is also well protected against scratches. The highlight here is the coating formulation with the bio-based hardener Desmodur eco N 7300 from Covestro. 70 percent of its carbon content comes from biomass, which reduces the ecological footprint by around 30 percent.

“Covestro and PPG have been working together in the field of coatings development for many years,” says Markus Mechtel, Marketing Manager for Automotive Applications in the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties segment at Covestro. “With this joint development, both partners want to demonstrate how a coating can also make a contribution to sustainable mobility.” Ignasi Roig, Product Platform Manager Refinish in the EMEA region at PPG, adds, “The biobased hardener meets the sustainability standards of our customers as well as our own. It is a near-drop-in solution where the user does not have to compromise on the quality of the coating.”

Adhesive endurance test

A wide range of materials were used to make the new car lightweight, aerodynamic and robust – high-quality plastics as well as composites and metals. The best way to permanently bond such different substrates is by gluing them together. On the trip through the Australian outback, the most important thing is the permanently high quality of the adhesive bond to withstand the high temperatures, the dryness and last but not least the vibrations during the run.

For the Covestro Sonnenwagen, the Aachen team relies on two-components polyurethane adhesives from SikaAutomotive, which are based on raw materials from Covestro’s Desmodur and Desmophen ranges. The products from the SikaForce product range feature outstanding mechanical strength along with elasticity and stretchability. 

Image provided by Covestro

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