The future is now: a Belgian solar car based on bio-based resins

Punch One

Solvay, Cardolite Corporation and SHD Composite Materials Ltd 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.

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. 

As a result, the final bio-content of the Punch One’s resin matrix is calculated to be 45%.  The excellent 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.

Cardolite Corporation is a privately held manufacturer of the world’s largest variety of products derived from CNSL. The unique properties of CNSL are used to develop and produce a wide range of products to service the coating, friction material, adhesive, and composite markets.

Solvay emerging biochemicals Global Business Unit produces and supplies chlor-alkali derivatives to a wide range of industries and markets, mostly in Asia. Its PVC or polyvinylchloride resins, Siamvic®, are used in a variety of industries including automotive, building & construction, consumer goods, electrical & electronics, healthcare, packaging, plumbing and wire & cable while Caustic Soda or sodium hydroxide, strong base soluble in water, is used in various applications which are part of daily life, such as pulp and paper, aluminum, detergents, fibers, food & feed among others.

Epicerol®, biobased epichlorohydrin (ECH), demonstrates environmental performance as feedstock for the production of epoxy resins, increasingly used in applications such as corrosion protective coatings, electronics, automotive, aerospace and wind turbine industries.

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