The world has become a smaller place. With the choice of transportation so varied, people can travel with complete freedom. We now depend on transportation as we and our goods are moved around the world – very quickly. However the planet is paying a price, so cleaner solutions consuming less fuel are a priority – and this is where high-tech plastics play a vital role.
The number of cars looks set to quadruple by 2050. Railways are crowded, but increasingly relied on as roads become clogged. Among the world's busiest airports, Dubai and London Heathrow are carrying more than 65 million passengers every year – and increasing. No wonder the transportation sector already accounts for around 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
It is a worrying global trend, so industry is working round the clock to come up with innovative ideas – with materials from Covestro supporting that mission.
Lighter than glass
Side windows, sunroofs and windscreens made from Covestro polycarbonates are tougher and up to 50 percent lighter than comparable glass substrate. This makes vehicles much lighter, reducing fuel consumption. New LED lights with polycarbonate lenses consume up to 70 percent less energy, and coatings made using polycarbonate raw materials from Covestro help reduce energy consumption and emissions, and improve the durability and aesthetics of cars.
Examples of Covestro solutions helping the rail industry include a collaboration with China South Railway, the leading public transport manufacturer in the Asian country. This railway giant has been using polycarbonate sheets for its subway cars, their light weight helping to reduce both fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions.
And in the skies, Covestro has worked with the Solar Impulse project – a futuristic plane built to circumnavigate the globe without a single drop of fuel, only powered by the sun.
Covestro has provided extremely high-performance insulating material to help it withstand extreme temperature fluctuations. Thin panels made from transparent, high-performance polycarbonate make up the cockpit window, and rigid polyurethane foam for insulating the batteries. Then there are raw materials for adhesives and for the shimmering silvery coating that covers large portions of the aircraft.
Whilst it may not be a blueprint for future commercial aeroplanes, Solar Impulse has opened people’s eyes to the principle of clean technology, showing what solutions are available and generating ideas on how they can be adapted to help other sectors.