The engine noise of last season’s races has just faded. It is time to take stock. Was RED Motorsport’s Lotus racecar, which was sponsored by Evonik Industries, a success? Team head Martin Roos and Klaus Hedrich, head of Evonik’s Automotive Industry team were unanimous that different kinds of expertise from Evonik helped bring the racecar to the fore, in addition to the lightweight design solutions characteristic of motorsports. Take paint. It makes a vehicle’s surface shine for longer and, above all, more scratch-resistant. And this is important not only for desert racing in sandy Dubai.
The Lotus paint is truly unique. The last layer of the outer shell is a clear paint finished with Evonik’s AERODISP® 1030. This is an emulsion based on fumed (i.e., produced in a flame process) silica. As an element of this type of coating system, it ensures much better scratch resistance than conventional coatings and achieves outstanding optical characteristics such as gloss and less haze. Also, in contrast to the individual raw materials, this type of emulsion is much easier for coating manufacturers to use. Simply add, stir, and it is ready to apply – all properties that coatings manufacturers and customers like. The rollout at the coatings manufacturers is in full swing, and fleet tests are already being carried out in the auto industry. The application is not limited only to paintwork, however; films and floor coatings are other possible uses.
For Evonik, motor sports is the acid test for mass production, because what works on the race track generally has what it takes to be used in a production model. This is the reason Evonik took the next logical step: joining forces with sports car maker Lotus Engineering in Hethel, United Kingdom, to develop a very special, roadworthy Lotus Exige, boasting all Evonik’s lightweight design solutions, and then some. The racecar’s low weight has a positive effect on many of its key characteristics – gas consumption, acceleration and driving around curves – at all times. The task of the fast car with the number plate is to show how racing-tested lightweight design solutions can be used in mass-produced vehicles, plus the secondary aspect of how attractive substantial slimming down can look. VESTAMID® HTplus, a plastic that can be installed on the hot engine for the first time, reduces the weight of the charge air ducts by half, for example. A lithium-ion battery also saves a whole load of weight, thanks to Evonik’s know-how. PLEXIGLAS® side windows additionally knock off the pounds, as do components made of ROHACELL® structural foam. The result: the Evonik Light Weight Design (LWD) Lotus, which weighs a whopping 75 kilograms less than the already very light Exige S series. Lubricant additives further enhance performance with low weight and, in the future, AERODISP 1030 will also ensure a shiny, more scratch-free appearance.
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