Pioneering technology developed by AkzoNobel's Sikkens paint brand has helped power the Dutch Nuna7 solar vehicle to victory in this year's World Solar Challenge.
Staged between Darwin and Adelaide in Australia, the 3,000km race - which began on Sunday - has been won by the Nuon Solar Team from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands in a time of just over 33 hours. Their average speed was 90.71kph.
Key to its success was the use of an ultra-light water-based composite pinhole filler (Aerowave 2501) and an aerodynamic Sikkens coatings system which reduced wind drag. The triumph comes just weeks after the Dutch VeloX3 recumbent bike - also coated by Sikkens - broke the world record for a human-powered vehicle.
"We're delighted that our long-standing partnership with the students from Delft has produced another magnificent result and we congratulate the team for this fantastic achievement," said Klaas Kruithof, Director of Research, Development and Innovation for AkzoNobel's Performance Coatings activities. "It's a great example of how we work closely with industrial customers to develop technically advanced coatings that deliver outstanding performance."
Added John Grevers, AkzoNobel's Technical Coordinator for Benelux: "The work we have been doing with both the Nuna7 and VeloX3 teams is about more than simply sharing knowledge and expertise. It's also about recognizing and believing in young talent, driving innovation and taking a fresh look at scientific challenges to find solutions together."
This year's race represented the fourth time that Sikkens technicians have worked with the Delft team on the Nuna project. The main addition for 2013 was the new water-based pinhole filler, which was originally developed for use on aircraft. It was combined with an aerodynamically advanced Sikkens coatings system to give the vehicle the best possible chance of finishing first. Which it duly did, 100km ahead of the team in second.
"AkzoNobel and Sikkens played a vital role in helping us to win the race," commented Leslie Nooteboom, driver of TU Delft's Nuon Solar Team. "Each year we have made improvements on weight reduction and aerodynamics which are so important to the competition. The new pinhole filler gave us an even smoother and lighter finish and we have now confirmed its effectiveness by crossing the finish line first."
Both the Nuna7 system and the one used on Velox3 were developed by AkzoNobel and Sikkens as a result of the expertise gained in Formula 1 through the company's long-term partnership with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team. As well as offering advanced aerodynamics and lighter weight, they also provide the durability needed to deliver high performance in extreme environments.
Launched in 1987, the World Solar Challenge is designed to showcase the development of advanced automotive technology and promote alternatives to conventional vehicle engines.