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01 | 2010

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Cellulosics

Automotive BioConcept

Automotive BioConcept Car 2, the Megane Trohpy (photo: Four Motors) BioConcept-Car – with Biomaterials on the Passing Lane In the first ‘automotive issue‘ of bioplastics MAGAZINE in early 2007 we reported on the BioConcept-Car. The Ford Mustang GT RTD features the world‘s most powerful biodiesel engine and bodywork made of flax-fibre reinforced linseed-acrylate, i.e. a high performance composite made of natural fibres embedded in a resin from the same plant (flax and linseed). At the end of October 2009 the ‘BioConcept-Car‘ project by Four Motors, Reutlingen, Germany, received the COMPOSITES Pioneer Award 2009 for the groundbreaking achievements in using natural fibres in automotive applications. The award was given to team leader and former DTM driver Thomas von Löwis of Menar (photo) within the framework of the COMPOSITES EUROPE 2009 exhibition. The trophy itself also lived up to its name, as its basic body is made entirely from renewable materials. Industrial designer Rolf Bender, who has already designed a large number of awards, created a monolithic shape made from the biopolymer PLA and bamboo grass. Its special feature: the two PLA sheets are welded, not glued, to the layer in between. During Composites Europe 2009 in Stuttgart, Germany, the Ford Mustang was presented, as well as the new generation BioConcept- Car, a green Renault Mégane Trophy. Both racing models show that even with biofuels and materials from renewable resources, trophies 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/10] Vol. 5

Automotive in long term races, such as the BFGoodrich long-distance championship and the 24-hour races on the Nürburgring, can be successfully achieved. Advantages of the bio-composites are their lower weight compared to glass-fibre composites, they do not splinter in crashes and, most importantly, they are better for the environment. The globally unique project with the Mustang featuring doors, fenders, engine hood, bumpers, spoilers and trunk lid made completely from bio-composites is now being further developed with a Renault Mégane Trophy 09. Its multi-part glass fibre reinforced body will be replaced step-by-step by natural fibre reinforced linseed-acrylate. This is happening in close cooperation with the German government‘s FNR (Agency for Renewable Resources) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “One important goal after the 2007 Mustang was to reduce weight and increase stability,“ says Thomas (Tom) von Löwis. “The new unpainted door of the Ford (that can be seen in the picture) is already 40% lighter than the previous one. This was achieved by reducing the number of fibre layers in some areas while maintaining a rigid structure in the areas of the hinges or the windows.“ The weight of the engine hood was reduced by 45%, and so on. “And there is still room for further improvement,“ says Tom. All of the experts from the FNR and DLR, as well as the racing team, are confident that with the Mégane even loadbearing parts can be realised. “This will really take us a huge step further,“ Tom points out. COMPOSITES Pioneer Award: from left: Markus Jessberger (Director COMPOSITES EUROPE), Amanda Jocob (Editor in Chief ‘Reinforced Plastics‘) and Thomas von Löwis, Crew Chief ‘Four Motors‘ (photo bioplastics MAGAZINE) The project is based on a concept with a scope far beyond motor sports. With the application of bio-materials and biofuels Thomas von Löwis and racing driver Smudo (by the way, he‘s a well-known Hip-Hop Star in Germany too) want to show and prove the capabilities of renewable resources. Further goals in the BioConcept Car 2 project are for example a solar panel roof to support the on-board electronics. “This will not lead to reduced lap times - that is the job of our drivers - but it will help to go longer distances on just one tankful,“ says Tom von Löwis. And he begins to dream … but it is a dream with the potential to come true: “One day, I hope we can drive a racing car around the Nürburgring powered by an electric motor, the batteries charged by a block power station - solar panels during daylight and a biodiesel generator at night. E- mobility is definitely coming,“ he says. But this BioConcept Car project does not want to be restricted to motor racing. On the contrary, the supporting partners FNR and others are very interested in transferring the project‘s findings to serial applications, starting for example with rear view mirror housings or tank lids. “Potential partners from industry that are interested in participating and transferring these results into ‚real‘ products are more than welcome,“ says Simone Falk of Four Motors. The first talks with seat manufacturers, for example, have already started. MT www.fourmotors.com Covergirl Theresia worked with Reed Exhibitions, organizers of COMPOSITES EUROPE. She says: “The whole week in Stuttgart was quite interesting, but the two BioConcept Cars were definitely among the highlights“. bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/10] Vol. 5 15

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