BioConcept-Car presented at the Hanover Fair
Münster / Hanover. The goals are ambitious and even visionary. The call is for more and more renewable raw materials to be used in modern automotive assembly, both for the motor and in the body, trim and all kinds of components. These days, more than ever, sustainability is the key word in the current discussion. Today, 160,000 tonnes of natural fibers are already being used for both commercial vehicles and passenger cars each year. This translates to an average of 4.2 kilograms per vehicle, and the share will be increasing in the future. At the Hanover Trade Fair (“Hannover Messe”) scheduled to take place from April 16 to 20, 2007, BASF Coatings and its R-M paint brand will be presenting a special sustainability project, the BioConcept-Car – the first generation, a Volkswagen-Beetle and coated parts of the second generation, a Ford Mustang.
The fossil energy reserves are finite, inspiring a number of innovative companies, associations and private individuals to currently develop concepts for sustainable automotive assembly in both the commercial-vehicle and passenger-car sectors. Before they can be integrated into everyday life, however, they have to pass endurance tests. And what better place for the paint to run than at the racetrack? That’s why R-M is a partner in the “BioConcept car” project. Most of the BioConcept racing car parts are built from biogenic materials. The experts at R-M were responsible for coating the racing car and provided an optimal coating solution for the materials, which so far have been used only on a limited basis. We talked about the remarkable project with Thorsten Schlatmann, head of R-M Distribution Germany.
1. How do sustainable automotive engineering and car racing fit together?
Even today the automotive industry and suppliers like us are working to provide solutions for the mobility of the future. Integrating the BioConcept car sustainability project in a high-level racing series provides valuable insight for all involved industries, which is then incorporated in feasibility studies and developments. However, car racing is not just a pure and simple feasibility test; it’s also a pleasant platform for the topics of car racing, lifestyle and sustainability. To put it in a nutshell, scolding consumers and railing with doomsday predictions about the limitation of fossil energy reserves won’t get us very far if we don’t also make them aware that the future can still include activities like car racing that lots of people enjoy and find entertaining. Speed, success at the racetrack and fun can all go hand in hand with sustainability.
2. What were the technological challenges for coating biogenic materials? What kind of paint system was used?
Coating biogenic materials is not something we do all the time. Yet we wanted to use this project to show that it is possible to coat a wide range of materials with a sustainable and eco-efficient paint concept and environmentally friendly coating technology. The BioConcept car’s doors, fenders, bumper, hood, and hatch are made of biofibers and are impregnated with a liquid bioplastic. While the paintwork we apply needs to resist the toughest demands posed by the racing scene, including racetracks that can be extremely dirty, it also has to meet the expectations of the media and make a positive impact on the public. Nothing less than “spectacular” will do. On top of this comes the challenge of precisely matching the colors on sponsors’ advertising decals. The BASF Coatings labs and research department had their hands full.
3. What are the economic advantages of this paint system?
Despite the high demands required for painting the BioConcept car, the result was outstanding thanks to R-M waterborne paints, ONYX HD Line waterborne paints to be exact. We used the COLORMASTER 2, R-M brand’s color matching system, to find precisely the right color. The ONYX HD Line meets the current strict legal requirements concerning the environment. With 80 percent fewer solvents and around 90 percent less waste than solvent-based paint systems, it’s a product we can be proud of. In addition to the environmental pluses, however, the real recipe for success is the ONYX HD Line’s extreme user-friendliness and high product quality, which bring about optimal results in very little time. ONYX HD Line is easy for painters to apply. With short flash-off times, the result is flawless.
We also used R-M’s STARLUX CP, a VOC-compliant clearcoat. By using this clearcoat, R-M has also proven that highly solvent-reduced products can also withstand the demands of car racing, an extreme environment.
4. What distinguishes the coating developed for the demands of the “BioConcept racing car” from the systems used in OEM coating at the moment?
We developed an individual solution for the special demands posed by biogenic materials. The starting point is our R-M ONYX HD Line, which we used later as the basic material to coat the biogenic materials on the basis of flax and linseed oil. Our painters’ skills were called for, as well as experience and flexibility during mixing. Put simply, we can paint nearly anything. The primary challenge is developing the correct paint system for an unusual substrate.
5. At present, the German carmakers feel they have no choice but to cater to demands for models that get better mileage with lower emissions of exhaust and engines powered by alternative fuels. When and why do you think biogenic materials will become the standard for automotive assembly and associated paint systems?
Currently, complete components made of biogenic materials, whether glass fibers, carbon fibers, or biofibers, are used in OEM production only for special applications and in car racing, and are thus produced in small batches. This means that they are not a real alternative to steel for large-scale production of automotive bodies. Still, today we are already working with the automotive industry on potential solutions for tomorrow. As a paint manufacturer that is active in research, we are prepared for the future. In fact, we have no choice. And let’s not forget that today some auto parts, such as rear shelves, are produced on the basis of biofibers.
BASF : A major international player in coatings
BASF Coatings AG belongs to the global Coatings Division of the BASF Group. In 2006 the Coatings Division achieved world sales of about 2.3 billion euros. The Coatings Division develops, produces and markets a high-quality range of innovative automotive OEM coatings, automotive refinishes and industrial coatings as well as decorative paints, and also the processes needed to apply them. In this business, eco-efficient water-based, powder and high-solids coatings as well as radiation-curable systems play a special part. In Brazil, the company has been successful in the decorative paints market for years and holds the leading position. BASF has a major, global presence in the Coatings sector, with significant market positions in Europe, North America, South America and the Asia/Pacific region, for example with affiliates in Australia, China, India, Japan, and the Philippines. The internet address of BASF Coatings is www.basf-coatings.de
BASF Automotive Solutions. Performance Passion Success
BASF – The Chemical Company – is a leading-edge source of intelligent sustainable solutions to automotive manufacturers and their suppliers worldwide. With a full portfolio of technologies that include coatings, catalysts, engineering thermoplastics, polyurethanes, pigments and colorants, coolants and brake fluids for a broad array of exterior, interior, chassis and under-the-hood applications, BASF – The Chemical Company - develops and delivers the innovations that help the automotive industry improve the quality, appearance, safety, cost competitiveness, performance, comfort, fuel efficiency, sustainability. Website: www.automotive.basf.com
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