With a highly efficient, self-developed solar car, Team Sonnenwagen wants to take part in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge from October 22 to 29, 2023, the toughest solar race in the world, across the Australian outback. But before that, the team of students from RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences made a stop at Covestro’s headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. In the Campus building there, the company hosted a farewell party for the students, who presented their new solar car “Adelie” and took it for several laps in public for the first time – without any fuel or charging station. Covestro shares the students’ enthusiasm for more sustainable mobility and has supported the team with innovative material solutions, professional exchange and as a main sponsor for about five years.
“I am amazed by the increased efficiency and energy savings you achieve with each new car model,” said Chief Technology Officer Dr. Thorsten Dreier in welcoming the guests. “The Covestro Adelie shows on a small scale what high-performance plastics can do for a sustainable future on a large scale. We are convinced that they are the key to sustainable mobility. That’s why we are consistently driving forward material innovations and recycling solutions together with our partners in industry and science.”
Optimization through teamwork
Even during the two-year development period of the Covestro Adelie, the teamwork of around 50 students led to success: aerodynamics, electrical engineering, driving strategy, chassis, powertrain and structure interlock perfectly. More than 200,000 hours of calculations were required to optimize the exterior shape, plus 10,000 workshop hours for the body, and many more days for electrical and mechanical components and the development of the driving strategy.
“A lot of work, heart and soul and the concentrated experience from our three predecessor models have gone into the Covestro Adelie,” confesses Clemens Odendahl, head of marketing at Team Sonnenwagen. “Now we hope to win the Challenger class, in which we are the only German team competing. There, it’s all about performance and maximum energy efficiency.”
Thanks to the optimizations, the structure of the new model weighs 16 percent less than that of its predecessor, the Photon, and the chassis even has 20 percent less weight. This improvement is also due to some Covestro materials, such as a battery cover made of high-performance plastic polycarbonate and the construction of the seat shell with thermoplastic polyurethane. The Photon is also currently on campus and will remain there for some time.
More sustainable outfit
But the Aachen-based tinkerers are not only committed to more sustainability on the road – their official outfit was also produced using alternative raw materials with fewer petrochemical components. Both the shoes and the shorts were provided by Covestro’s Chinese partner Huafeng. The two companies jointly developed a design for them using Huafeng’s HAPTIC® textile coating system, which is made with Covestro’s partially bio-based Impranil® CQ DLS/1 polyurethane dispersion.
Covestro wishes Team Sonnenwagen every success and victory in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. This time, 42 teams from 23 countries are taking part in what is probably the toughest solar car race in the world. Under harsh climatic conditions, they have to master the more than 3,000-kilometer route from Darwin to Adelaide as quickly as possible, right across the Australian outback.