The 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, covering over 3000km between Darwin and Adelaide, is regarded as the planet’s toughest solar vehicle race and, this year, two teams will be looking good with PPG support.
Following up on its ‘Best Newcomer’ award for its first participation in 2017, Team Sonnenwagen is making a return. Once again it arrives with close support from Covestro, one of the largest global polymer companies, and PPG. Together, Covestro and PPG created a high-performance refinish clearcoat which is actually based on renewable materials. A key component is Covestro’s isocyanate hardener, Desmodur eco N 7300. Instead of using fossil fuels, 70% of the hardener’s carbon content is sourced from biomass, reducing its carbon footprint by around 30%, without compromising performance or quality. The car's carbon fibre body was coated in the eco-friendly, bio-based refinish clearcoat in a five-day application process at the PPG Training Centre in Hilden, Germany.
Performance was also one of the key criteria for Western Sydney University’s Solar Car Team and PPG was happy to provide close support. In 2018, it was the first non-American team to win the American Solar Challenge, a 2837km race from Nebraska to Oregon, and now its latest car, dubbed UNLIMITED 3.0, is looking to emulate that result at the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Crucially, PPG was able to assist with the team’s obsessive focus on weight minimisation, says Trevor Duke, PPG NSW Training Manager.
“After selecting the best PPG refinish products for the project and matching a number of colours for the team, we actually conducted tests to work out the best process for adding the least weight of paint to the vehicle yet still ensuring excellent overall performance. The team sanded the primer back to minimal thickness requirement before the ENVIROBASE High Performance waterborne basecoat was applied at our state-of-the-art NSW Training Centre. That was followed by clearcoat which was sanded back and flowcoated. All the way through, team members were constantly measuring film builds. The car left here looking fantastic in the team’s red colour scheme.”
Both PPG painted cars will now take to the grueling course with proven coatings that are well and truly capable of dealing with the extreme environment, including temperatures up to 45°C, high levels of ultra-violet radiation and high dust content.