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The Sonnenwagen uses an automotive refinish coating with bio-based hardener.
The Sonnenwagen uses an automotive refinish coating with bio-based hardener.

A group of students from RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences in Germany will participate in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2017. Calling themselves Team Sonnenwagen, they are supported by Covestro's materials technology and technical service.

Temperatures in the Australian desert can soar to as much as 45°C in October during the race, with intense UV radiation. This time of year also typically sees a high particle concentration in the air. Covestro wants to use the project to test coatings under the harsh climate conditions prevailing along the race's route.

The most important product application is a three-layer polyurethane (PU) coating from PPG. It is particularly suited to coating body parts made of carbon fiber composites.

Climate conditions have a significant impact on the top clearcoat. The Sonnenwagen uses an automotive refinish coating that contains Covestro's bio-based hardener Desmodur eco N 7300.

"Some 70% of its carbon content comes from biomass," explained Ulf Wentzien, Global Head of Industrial Marketing in the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties Business Unit at Covestro. "This reduces the environmental footprint by around 30%."

"The bio-based hardener achieved the highest sustainability standards and meets both our customers' and our own requirements," commented Ignasi Roig, EMEA Product Platform Manager at PPG Refinish. "The coating is to the same outstanding quality as a polyurethane clearcoat with a conventionally produced hardener."

In PPG’s training center in Hilden, the two-component coating was applied to the Sonnenwagen's bodywork parts under similar conditions to an automotive paint shop. It is particularly suitable for the temperature-sensitive surface of the solar-powered car as it hardens at low temperatures. The coating process can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar0sjUc7eRE

The World Solar Challenge is considered to be the toughest race on Earth for solar cars and this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. From October 8-15, 2approximately 40 teams from all over the world will be competing in their "homemade" vehicles to win the 3,000 kilometer 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. "Through our developments and this project partnership, we are committed to future mobility and aim to show that these kinds of concepts are already feasible," said Covestro's Ulf Wentzien. "At the same time, we have the opportunity to inspire and support young people at universities."

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