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Recycled composites and flax reinforced composites - products born out of joint development programmes involving Umeco - have been used to manufacture parts for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV, an all-electric prototype racing car demonstrating the potential of sustainable ‘green’ technologies in the motorsport industry.
Jointly developed by Lola Group and Drayson Racing Technologies, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV is destined to take part in the FIA Formula E World Championship Series in 2013.
Lola’s use of recycled composite materials follows the completion of a collaborative research and development programme involving Umeco, WMG at the University of Warwick and ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd. Carbon fibres from out of life MTM®49 epoxy prepreg were reclaimed by ELG and then re-impregnated with Umeco’s MTM®49 toughened epoxy resin. WMG, Lola and Umeco performed a series of tests to determine the mechanical and impact properties of the material, with comparisons being drawn against the original virgin prepregs. Test showed minimal loss of strength and similar fibre stiffness to virgin prepreg. Lola has since manufactured parts for its Lola-Drayson B12/69EV using this product.
The application of flax-reinforced composites is the result of a joint research and development programme involving Umeco, WMG and Composites Evolution Ltd. In this programme, WMG carried out extensive research and testing supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC EP/E007252/1) and Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (WIMRC), Composites Evolution supplied the woven flax material, and Umeco impregnated the material with its MTM®28 and MTM®49 epoxy resins.
Dr James Meredith, Research Fellow at WMG, worked closely with Dr Sophie Cozien-Cazuc, Project Manager at Umeco, and Lola engineers Sam Carter and Ed Collings to develop the flax-reinforced composites. Development activity focussed around Umeco’s MTM®28 and MTM®49 toughened epoxy resins, originally developed specifically for the manufacture of components requiring high damage tolerance. Lola was involved from the onset, setting the performance criteria for the structures they planned to manufacture. They have since produced a range of parts for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV using MTM®28/Biotex Flax and MTM®49/Biotex Flax, and have achieved outstanding results.
Flax fibres have similar mechanical properties to glass fibres, but with much lower weight and environmental impact, and they also have extremely good vibration damping and insulating characteristics. The use of renewable flax composites in ‘green’ vehicles provides a nice synergy and, with this eco race car, Lola has shown that flax can even be used in high-performance, cutting-edge applications.
Through the application of recycled and flax-reinforced composites, as well as inductive charging, composite battery power, moveable aerodynamics and electrical regenerative damping, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV racing car exhibits sustainable ‘green’ technologies, making it one of the world’s most innovative ‘cleantech’ motorsport projects.
The B12/69EV, which develops 850 horsepower, aims to be the fastest electric-powered racecar to lap a circuit.
Image: © Lola Cars International Ltd. - use of composites under the engine cover of the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV.
More information: www.lolacars.com - www.umeco.com