Recycled and plant-based composites are being used in underhood components of the British Lola-Drayson B12/69EV race car, which will compete in the 2013 FIA Formula E World Championship Series.
Jointly developed by Lola Group and Drayson Racing Technologies, the 850HP B12/69EV prototope was designed and built to demonstrate the potential of sustainable technologies in the harsh and demanding environment of sports cars. It incorporates advances such as inductive charging, composite battery power, moveable aerodynamics, and electrical regenerative damping.
The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV prototype race car, which will compete in the all-electric FIA Formula E World Championship Series, uses recycled and plant-based composites in underhood components. (Source: Lola Cars International Ltd.)
Umeco, structural composite maker for aerospace and automotive applications, co-developed the recycled composites and flax-reinforced composites with two different sets of partners. For the recycled materials, the company worked with ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd. and WMG at the University of Warwick. ELG reclaimed end-of-life carbon fibers from Umeco's MTM49 epoxy prepreg and re-impregnated them with Umeco's MTM49 toughened epoxy resin.
WMG, Lola, and Umeco performed several tests to assess how the material's mechanical and impact properties stack up against the properties of the original virgin prepregs. The tests showed that there had been a minimal loss of strength from virgin prepreg, while fiber stiffness was similar.
Umeco's partners in co-developing the flax-reinforced composites were WMG and Composites Evolution Ltd. WMG conducted extensive research and testing, while Composites Evolution supplied the woven flax material. Umeco impregnated the flax-reinforced material with its MTM28 and MTM49 epoxy resins, developed originally for components that require high damage tolerance. Flax fibers were selected because their mechanical properties are similar to those of glass fibers, but their weight and environmental impact are much lower. Flax fibers also have extremely good insulating and vibration damping characteristics.
Lola has since manufactured parts for the B12/69EV using the recycled MTM49 product, as well as the MTM28/Biotex Flax and MTM49/Biotex Flax.
It's amazing to me how much the race car industry pushes the envelope in terms of engineering technology, both green and otherwise. I know these are typically one-off or short production run implementations, but how much of what these guys do actually has commercial applicability?
Beth, the race car industry often leads the way in introducing new concepts to the driving public. That's why many large manufacturers have their own race teams and often support independent race teams. These guys can try things that are not used in production. The stresses of the race circuit ensure that they are doing things that will work (or they will find out quickly what does not). Lola has been around for a long time. They build prototype cars and innovate constantly. Some of the innovations in racing from safety equipment and designs to aerodynamics got their start in racing. So, this is an interesting development with the novel composites they are using. We might see something like it in our cars soon.
Beth, Much of what they do has commercial applicability: at some level, cars are cars. Major car makers have used engineering-grade plastics for under-hood applications, including bioplastics, although not recycled or bio-based composites. Tata Toyo, an Indian manufacturer of under-the-hood heat exchange parts, traded its specialty nylon materials] for DuPont's Zytel PLUS nylon for three hot-side and cold-side charge air coolers under the hood in the vehicle's engine compartment. http://www2.dupont.com/Plastics/en_US/News_Events/article20120119.html for use in four different vehicles, in passenger cars, utility vehicles, and light commercial vehicles, of an undisclosed major Indian automotive OEM. Zytel RS (renewably sourced) nylon has been chosen by Hutchinson SRL for diesel and biodiesel fuel lines. http://www2.dupont.com/Plastics/en_US/News_Events/article20111018a.html Other under-hood plastic parts include engine components. For example, Ford Motor Company reportedly uses high-temperature thermoplastics in its 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine for the F-150 truck, including key components like the cam cover, ducts, hoses and engine cover. http://plasticsnews.com/headlines2.html?id=24273
naperlou is right: many leading-edge, and even bleeding-edge, technologies are used first in race cars before automakers decide to work with suppliers to adapt them to commercial applications. It's a free test-drive for the commercial automakers, as far as stress testing goes.
Flax isn't like glass properties at all. And I see little impact from fiberglass unless anyone has a sand shortage. Considering the water, land, etc needed to grow flax and gathering, processing it is likely to be more than processing sand into FG. Far less if one uses concentrated solar power.
If they wanted to get the best from flax it shouldn't have been woven.
The Epoxies I use are mostly made from fat and the cleaner is vinegar, water if not to far into curing. I've used this combo for 40 yrs now not because it's green but because it's far less toxic to my fair skin.
Nice story, Ann. Did they say which underhood components are being built from composites? In an earlier post, you mentioned that plastics are being used in some kind of EV battery partitions. Is this a trend we can expect to see going forward?
Ann, do you know if the military has a formal procedure for sharing technology with the commercial aerospace industry? Are industry engineers involved with military suppliers the way the automotive engineers are involved with Indy cars?
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