For a long time, the main trends in the automotive industry were toward increased comfort and safety. One of the undesirable side effects of these trends was that every new vehicle generation was heavier than the preceding one. However, car makers now want to put an end to that. Modern drivers’ environmental awareness and the statutory emission limits are requiring vehicles to become lighter—without, however, sacrificing any comfort or safety. As a result, steel is increasingly being replaced in vehicle bodies and chassis by composite materials that are lightweight yet robust. And extremely resilient plastics are performing the same role in the engine compartment, the transmission, and the exhaust system.
About one third of all the materials in today’s automobiles are the result of state-of-the-art chemistry, and this share is increasing. The smart use of materials helps to make components durable and recyclable, and manufacturers are attempting to achieve more sustainability even at the raw material stage. With its expertise in creating innovative detailed solutions, Evonik is promoting this sustainability trend in cars.
More than just lightweight: efficiency all around
However, lightweight construction alone does not suffice to make cars more sustainable. Thanks to special additives, paints can today be processed in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner than in the past, and they are also better at protecting vehicles over the years. Other components are produced from renewable raw materials. Smart chemistry used in making lubricants for engines, transmissions, and axles is helping to reduce fuel consumption. Moreover, the LEDs in smart headlights and attractive taillights are made especially efficient by lenses and optical waveguides composed of plastic from Evonik.
Using the silica-silane system for “green” tires
Ever since efficiency labels became mandatory for car tires in the EU and elsewhere, drivers have focused more consciously on sustainability and grip. A tire change is all it takes. “Green” tires reduce rolling resistance and improve the car’s grip on wet roads, without having a shorter service life. Uniting all of these features in a single tire was considered illusory for a long time. However, such tires are now made possible by a special combination of silica and silanes from Evonik. After a vehicle is equipped with these tires, its fuel consumption can drop by up to eight percent compared to cars fitted with conventional tires.