Covestro supports young team at TU Munich with more sustainable plastics
Goal: maximum efficiency in urban mobility
- Concept car "muc023" takes 2nd place in the international car race "Shell Eco-marathon" (Europe and Africa)
- Front and side windows made of transparent lightweight plastic
- New polycarbonates with alternative raw materials
How can you drive as far as possible with one kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy? This was the question posed by the "TUfast Eco Team" of committed students from the Technical University of Munich, who developed a concept car called "muc023". The team has now been successful in the international car race "Shell Eco-marathon" and came in 2nd place in terms of efficiency on the track: the range of the muc023 was 242 kilometers per kWh – a nice result!
Aerodynamics, a low weight and minimal energy losses were high on the agenda when designing the hyper-efficient city vehicle. Covestro supported the developments with its transparent and lightweight Makrolon® AG RE polycarbonate. With its use in the front and side windows, the plastic helps the electric car weigh just 65 kilograms in total, making it lighter than its driver.
"I am very pleased with the ambition and courage of this young team, which is pursuing the same goal as our company: to commit to the most efficient and sustainable mobility possible," says Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer at Covestro. "Similar to the 'Sonnenwagen' solar car project, we also support these students in exploring what is possible. In addition, we want to attract young people at leading universities to work with us on solutions for future mobility."
Makrolon® AG – the abbreviation stands for "automotive glazing" – was developed for glazing vehicles and is characterized by transparency and light weight. "With the RE variant, we can further increase sustainability by making greater use of alternative mass-balanced raw materials from biowaste and residual materials, as well as renewable electricity for the production of the plastic," says Dr. Fabian Grote, Head of Global Technical Marketing Mobility in the Engineering Plastics segment. "In this way, we want to help make the circular economy a reality." The company's plastics have long been used in the automotive industry, enabling functional and more sustainable solutions with plenty of design freedom.
Less weight, improved aerodynamics
The results of the vehicle development are impressive: While muc023 traveled 242 kilometers on one kilowatt hour, today's electric vehicles can only cover a distance of 5 to 10 kilometers with this amount of energy. "In the new prototype, we have once again significantly reduced the weight of the chassis and suspension," explains Gleb Lialine, head of the TUfast team. "We also improved the aerodynamics, achieving a drag coefficient of just 0.13, and finally installed a more powerful motor and optimized the electrical control system."
To challenge itself, the team takes part in international motorsport competitions, most recently the Shell Eco-marathon in Nogaro in southwestern France. At the Paul Armagnac race track, the Munich team competed against university teams from all over the world and came in 2nd place. In addition to the car's very good efficiency, a newly developed system for autonomous driving was also put to the test, which is operated with cameras and LiDARs as well as various sensors. For LiDAR system requirements, Covestro offers polycarbonate plastics from the Makrolon® ST (Sensor Transparent) product range that are transparent to the corresponding infrared wavelengths and allow sensors to be installed.
Covestro is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality polymer materials and their components. With its innovative products, processes and methods, the company helps enhance sustainability and the quality of life in many areas. Covestro supplies customers around the world in key industries such as mobility, building and living, as well as the electrical and electronics sector. In addition, polymers from Covestro are also used in sectors such as sports and leisure, cosmetics and health, as well as in the chemical industry itself.
The company is committed to becoming fully circular and is striving to become climate neutral by 2035 (scope 1 and 2). Covestro generated sales of EUR 18 billion in fiscal 2022. At the end of 2022, the company had 50 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 18,000 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.