In cars that consume less fuel and buildings that require less energy, there is one particular material that is likely to be present – polycarbonate. This high-tech plastic from Covestro supports a range of properties that can be used to sustainable effect. Light and durable, it insulates well and can also be recycled multiple times.
The transport sector is the third-largest source of greenhouse gases. Clean cars that consume less fuel are therefore in increasing demand. The less they weigh, the more successful they are in this respect. Polycarbonate, an impressively light and transparent high-tech plastic from Covestro, is a perfect way to help cars “lose weight.”
The advantages of polycarbonate are particularly clear in automotive glazing. It can be used for side and rear windows, panoramic roofs and even entire rear hatches. The resultant components are up to 50 percent lighter than their glass equivalents.
Supporting electric mobility
Coatings and glazing made from polycarbonate can also protect vehicle interiors against both heat and cold. This reduces the need to use heating and climate control systems, which is particularly important in electric cars as it saves on battery usage. Batteries can also be protected by a lightweight polycarbonate enclosure. The same applies to the electric charging points where the batteries are recharged.
A further contribution to energy efficiency comes in the form of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are used in other applications as well as cars. LEDs use much less electricity than traditional light sources and last considerably longer. Their lenses are also often made from polycarbonate. In new LED street lamps, for instance, energy consumption is up to 70 percent lower than in conventional systems.
Polycarbonate can also be used to help meet increasing energy efficiency requirements in buildings. Here, just as in automotive glazing, the material’s insulation properties are highly valued. The high level of design freedom is another key factor here, allowing the high-performance plastic to be used in multiwall sheets for roof and facade elements – some even with infrared filters.
Polycarbonate is also helpful when it comes to renewable energies. It facilitates the volume production of small rotors for mini wind turbines, enabling homes in remote areas to generate their own electricity.
Saving energy in production
These sustainable effects in applications are matched by the eco-friendly production and processing of the polycarbonate. A special melt process used by Covestro results in a specific electricity consumption – that is to say the demand in relation to a specific quantity – that is about 20 percent lower than traditional production processes.
Once a polycarbonate product comes to the end of its useful service life, it isn’t simply thrown away. The material can be recycled. For instance, Covestro employs used water bottles to produce a recycled plastic made from polycarbonate and PET. The quality is just as high as that of new material – with added sustainability credentials.