Solar car produced with bio-based resins to compete on race track

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  • Carbon fiber prepregs impregnated and hardened using bio-based materials
  • Belgian solar car “Punch One” will run the Solar Challenge 2015
  • Final bio-content of car’s resin matrix is calculated to be 45%

Cardolite Corporation, SHD composite Materials Ltd and Solvay are supporting the Punch Powertrain Solar Team from the University of Leuven in building the Punch One, a Belgian solar car based on bio-based resins. The Punch One, that will run the Solar Challenge in Australia in October, is produced with carbon fiber prepregs impregnated with Epicerol-based BisA epoxy and cured with a hardener based on cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL), a natural renewable chemical raw material.

Carbon fiber prepregs impregnated and hardened using bio-based materials

The university students who built the solar car used an autoclave cure process to produce the composite. SHD Composites combined its expertise in prepreg manufacturing with products from Cardolite and Solvay to develop a bio-based carbon fiber (CFR) composite material. Core components of the resin system were Cardolite’s NX-4001, a 95% bio-based novolac using the latest cashew nutshell liquid technology, and Solvay’s Epicerol, a 100% bio-based epichlorohydrin (ECH) produced using Solvay’s proprietary process.

Final bio-content of car’s resin matrix is calculated to be 45%

As a result, the final bio-content of the Punch One’s resin matrix is calculated to be 45%. The very good wetting properties of CNSL-based hardeners and the improved inter laminar shear strength of the final composite resulted in a strong, impact resistant, light-weight CFR epoxy car body with an overall bio-content of 18%.

The combination of bio-based chemistry, solar panel innovation and the latest battery and electronic technology will enable the Punch One to catch everyone’s eye at the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October.

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