Belgian solar car features bio-based composites

Cardolite, SHD Composite Materials and Solvay combine to provide a 95% bio-based novolac resin using the latest cashew nutshell liquid technology.

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Cardolite Corp. (Gent, Belgium), SHD Composite Materials Ltd. (Sleaford, UK) and Solvay (Brussels, Belgium) are supporting the Punch Powertrain Solar Team from the University of Leuven (Leuven, Belgium) 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 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 interlaminar 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%.