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Covestro: Team Sonnenwagen presents new prototype for solar car race in Australia

With the power of the sun to the mobility of the future

In front of numerous guests and with great public attention, Team Sonnenwagen presented its new solar racing vehicle Covestro Adelie at the Eurogress Aachen, Germany. Over the course of one and a half years, the 50-member team of students from RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences created a new car model based on interdisciplinary research and extensive experience. This gives it a good chance of successfully participating in what is probably the world’s toughest solar car race – the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge from October 22-29, 2023 in Australia. Covestro shares the enthusiasm of the students and supports the team with innovative material solutions, technical exchange and as main sponsor.

“For me, the Sonnenwagen is a powerful symbol of future mobility, because it shows us that we need to ask crucial questions about materials science and design on the way there,” said Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer at Covestro, in her welcoming speech. “For me, the Sonnenwagen team are exemplary for creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. The students proved an impressive motivation and know-how to develop and optimize new ideas for solar-powered, light-weight electric vehicles.”

Multidisciplinary team

As many as nine disciplines of the Aachen-based team were involved in the design: the chassis, aerodynamics, structure, electrical engineering, driving strategy, production, sponsorship, marketing and logistics departments. “Close and efficient cooperation between these areas is very important, because we want to compete in the Challenger class at the race, where the main focus is on performance and maximum energy efficiency,” explains Lina Schwering, 1st Chairwoman of Team Sonnenwagen. “A lot of working time has gone into the Adelie, which we have invested alongside our studies and during our free time, and a lot of commitment and heart and soul.”

In total, more than 50 teams from 24 countries are setting out on the more than 3,000-kilometer route from Darwin to Adelaide – right across the Australian outback. There, people and models are exposed to very harsh climatic conditions with high temperatures and strong UV exposure from the sun during the race, but also during the preceding test drives. In addition, the vehicle is subjected to strong mechanical stresses that can affect the efficiency and performance of the battery.

Innovative materials

“The Sonnenwagen team therefore needed a lot of support in selecting the materials,” says Andreas Brandt, Head of Group Marketing and project sponsor at Covestro. “The new Sonnenwagen incorporates innovative products with different functionalities from various business segments, which are tested under track conditions.”

For example, the aerodynamic outer shell was made from milled SikaBlock® polyurethane foam blocks from Sika, a long-standing partner of Covestro and another sponsor of Team Sonnenwagen. The Leverkusen-based company provided raw materials for this and advised the team on the implementation. The Sikaflex® sealants for the solar cells are also based on components from Covestro. Other examples include a plastic sheet made of polycarbonate for the battery enclosure and thermoplastic cushioning materials for the driver’s seat trim.

“Pushing boundaries is what we at Covestro have in common with the young talents of Team Sonnenwagen,” says Sucheta Govil, summarizing her message. “We push the boundaries of innovation in materials, driven by our commitment to sustainable mobility of the future. With our products and solutions, we materialize the circular economy.”

SOURCE: Covestro

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