Huntsman’s Advanced Materials division supplies both epoxy resins and adhesives to the automobile market to create lighter weight composite parts that replace heavier steel and aluminium parts. Lighter weight vehicles improve fuel economy and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2. The market for these epoxy resins and adhesives is expected to grow as car manufacturers work to meet higher miles-per-gallon standards required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In Europe, car manufacturers are using carbon composite materials to meet governmental CO2 reduction targets. BMW is at the forefront, with its i3 and i8 models, which feature entire car bodies made from carbon composites.
High-performance sports car
A sports car manufacturer in Europe is using a relatively new application for Huntsman’s VITROX® resin technology to produce a high-performance sports car chassis. The chassis of the Zenos E10, manufactured by Bright Lite Structures in the United Kingdom, uses a patent-pending, structural carbon fiber solution that features Huntsman’s highly adaptable resin technology to fabricate the “skins” of the chassis’ five honeycomb composite pieces, which are then adhesively bonded together to produce one unit along with an aluminum center spine.
The unique honeycomb composite, which incorporates recycled carbon fiber in the skin composite layers and recycled polycarbonate in the thermoplastic core, costs far less than using exclusively virgin material and meets or exceeds the compression, stiffness and torsional rigidity required for the vehicle chassis. It also reduces the weight of the car and the chassis-assembly time and cost compared to steel, aluminium or monolithic carbon composites. This is due, in part, to low capital expenditures on process equipment and tooling, along with the long open time and rapid cure of Huntsman’s VITROX® resin.
As a result, the Zenos E10 track car weighs a mere 650 kilograms (1,433 pounds), making the vehicle more fuel efficient.
The Zenos E10 sports car chassis won the Materials Innovation Award at the 15th Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition in September 2015. While the current market for the sports kit vehicle is relatively small – around 1,000 units a year – Huntsman and Bright Lite Structures are working with major automotive manufacturers to apply the technology for larger-scale commercial production. Today, Huntsman epoxy resins are already used in the BMW i3 and in some Corvette and Cadillac models.
Lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft
As the aircraft industry works to become more fuel efficient, demand for Huntsman’s industrial composites in aircraft and aerospace markets is taking flight. For every pound of weight taken out of a typical commercial aircraft, dozens of gallons of fuel are saved each year of operation.
Huntsman is using its more than 70 years of aircraft market knowledge to develop products that have greatly reduced the overall weight of an aircraft, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and less emissions.
Huntsman’s EPOCAST® 1614A1 is a structural-reinforcing compound used to help make lightweight landing gear doors, engine nacelles and parts for spacecraft. It is designed to withstand 14,000 pounds of pressure per square inch and is flame retardant for increased safety.
Huntsman’s EPIBOND® 8000 offers high strength and flame retardant properties that make aircraft lighter weight and safer. Use of the adhesive in lieu of mechanical fasteners enables manufacturers to produce more aircraft interiors in less time and with fewer parts.
Huntsman’s EPIBOND® 100 aerospace adhesive replaces traditional bolts and rivets and is used to bond together the major carbon fiber structural components of the revolutionary Cirrus SF-50 Vision Jet. Using this technologically advanced, high-performance adhesive reduces opportunities for both corrosion and aerodynamic drag while increasing fuel efficiency.