New Delhi: Covestro is supporting students at RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences with an ambitious project – the development of a solar-powered electric car for what is likely to be the toughest solar car race in the world, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia from October 8 to 15. The company is supporting the Aachen-based Sonnenwagen team’s project with materials and technical service and as a gold sponsor.
The car has now been manufactured and is being put through its paces before the long journey. This is a welcome opportunity for the young researchers to present the high-powered car again to classmates and guests from the worlds of science, business and politics. Under the slogan “The Sonnenwagen team has lift off,” they explained the milestones and also the challenges over the course of the vehicle’s two-year development history.
Already in the pipeline: future mobility concepts
“Our solar car clearly proves that innovative and sustainable mobility concepts are already possible and feasible now,” said Hendrik Löbberding, chairman of the Sonnenwagen team, at the event in the main building of RWTH Aachen University. “We now hope to achieve an excellent place with our speedster.”
As well as a keynote lecture on mobility by Professor Achim Kampker from RWTH Aachen University, the academic framework program also included a lecture by Dr. Karsten Danielmeier, coatings expert at Covestro, on innovative materials for the mobility of the future. “In Australia, we want to test a car repair clearcoat from PPG under the harsh climate conditions prevailing along the race’s route,” explained Danielmeier. Since the car body parts are made from temperature sensitive carbon fiber composites, the vehicle has not passed the usual original coating with baking process. The clearcoat contains the bio-based hardener Desmodur® eco N 7300.
Covestro develops sustainable solutions
With such developments and project partnerships, Covestro is committing itself to future vehicle concepts that meet the needs of increasing mobility but also make a contribution to climate protection and economizing on fossil resources. The materials manufacturer is acting as a provider of solutions for the car industry and is pushing boundaries in order to fulfill the increasing demands associated with realizing these concepts.
The company already has some experience with future mobility concepts: as an official partner of the Solar Impulse project, it made a contribution to the success of the first manned flight around the globe in an aircraft powered exclusively by solar energy. At the K 2016 plastics trade fair, the manufacturer presented a groundbreaking concept for electric mobility, involving, for the first time, wrap-around glazing made from polycarbonate and innovative lighting with holographic films.
Competing for the best talents
Covestro also used the event to showcase itself as an attractive employer to the students, talented junior employees and experienced professionals attending the event. Because, for a company so driven by innovation, a critical success factor is finding highly qualified staff. Therefore, the company is appearing at lots of traditional career fairs, using various online and social media channels, and pursuing higher education marketing.
The goal of this is to bring innovative developments to life and get people interested in Covestro and spark their enthusiasm for its values: being curious, courageous and colorful – curious about progress and fascinating developments like the Sonnenwagen and courageous in seeing opportunities where others see limits, and pushing those boundaries. Here, being colorful is a synonym for creativity and a broad range of talents.
Covestro has had a close partnership with RWTH Aachen University for many years. A particular success is the joint catalysis research at the on-site CAT Catalytic Center, which was recently extended for an additional seven years.
Both partners developed a process at the center for using carbon dioxide as a new raw material in plastic production. The development was so successful that Covestro set up a new plant for the production of a CO2-based component for polyurethane foam at its site in Dormagen, which went into operation last year.