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Students team up with Sikkens to paint solar race car

Students at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands have once again teamed up with AkzoNobel technicians to paint their latest solar race car, the Nuna7. This coming October 6-13 the Nuna7 will compete in the World Solar Challenge, a 3,000 km race held every other year in the Australian outback, using solar energy only.


John Grevers, AkzoNobel’s Technical Coordinator for Benelux and Sikkens project leader for the Nuna, describes Sikkens’ contributions to the Nuna7 as part of a continuing commitment. “We have been working with the TU solar car for 7 years, since Nuna4,” says Grevers, “and it has been a valuable experience for us to develop coatings that provide advanced aerodynamics yet can perform well under the extreme temperatures of solar car racing.”

Developing aerodynamically advanced coatings that reduce wind drag and are also very light is an important part of AkzoNobel’s commitment to creating sustainable products.

This year, the AkzoNobel team has offered a breakthrough in pore-filling technology that has further streamlined the surface of the Nuna and reduced preparation time.

The carbon fibre shell of the car comes out of its manufacturing process with pin holes that must be filled with putty and then sanded, sometime multiple times. A new water based pinhole filler developed by AkzoNobel will replace much of the putty and doesn’t require sanding, as it can easily be wiped away. It also adds less weight to the car than traditional fillers. The new Composite Pinhole Filler Aerowave 2501 was developed by AkzoNobel’s Aerospace Coatings division and has already been used on commercial aircraft.

Other Sikkens products that make up the finish of the car include: Colorbuild Plus, Autocryl Plus LV, and Autoclear LV Superior.

Weight and aerodynamics are the primary challenges for the cars competing in the World Solar Challenge, and Leslie Nooteboom, Delft team’s Public Relations manager, says the AkzoNobel contributions have been vitally important in gain an edge. “The coatings Sikkens supplies help to ensure that we have the best possible aerodynamics, because of the finish they provide. We feel AkzoNobel has a very important role to play in giving us the best chance of winning the race.”

According to John Grevers, the Nuna project demonstrates the value of the Sikkens Creating Together philosophy. He says, “Here, we are partnered with a young team following the latest developments in coatings technology. We think these materials can be used in the future on consumer vehicles. And it is always good to work with students because they bring a fresh vision to the whole.”