Covestro supports student project for World Solar Challenge
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, 2017. 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 fulfil 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 ground-breaking 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 colourful – curious about progress and fascinating developments like the Sonnenwagen and courageous in seeing opportunities where others see limits, and pushing those boundaries. Here, being colourful 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 centre 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.
With 2016 sales of EUR 11.9 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 15600 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2016.
Sonnenwagen Aachen has existed as a registered association since September 2015 and is composed of 40 committed students from RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences. The goal of the association is to design and build a solar-operated electric vehicle and to take part in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in October 2017 – an emission-free race straight through the Australian outback. As the only German team in the Challenger class, the Sonnenwagen Aachen team will compete with other international teams on the 3022-kilometer-long route. The central purpose behind participation in the race is to raise awareness of the subject of sustainable mobility within society and to make a contribution to the development of relevant technologies themselves.