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Thermoplastic resin supports future of green motoring

Eastman Chemical Company : 07 October, 2004  (New Product)
The Osmose City Car featutres body components made from three single piece polyester mouldings.
The “Osmose City Car” is a concept for an environmentally-friendly, electrically-powered urban two-seat vehicle. It makes comprehensive use of Kelvx thermoplastic resin from the Eastman Chemical Company, because of its easy processability, design freedom and its ability to help reduce weight and cost.

Among the many innovations in the Osmose City Car is the electrical power plant. In a new departure, one set of batteries drives the vehicle while another can be charging. The battery pack is mounted in a removable rack at the back of the vehicle. This rack is designed to accommodate conventional lead-acid batteries, or more advanced energy sources, such as fuel cells and the next generation of polymer electrolyte batteries. Osmose has a driving range of approximately 60 miles (100 kilometres) with standard lead-acid batteries but this increases to 250 miles or more when the battery rack is fitted with the more advanced power units. The removable battery-rack also permits use of other “green” motoring solutions such as biomass fuels.

The Osmose City Car has been designed for urban use only and its speed is limited to 50 km per hour (30 mph) so that it can legally be driven in certain countries with no need for a full driving licence.

Another innovative feature of the Osmose City Car is its body. This comprises a bubble-shaped passenger compartment mounted on an aluminium frame. The car’s body components are 3 single piece polyester mouldings for engine cover, side sills, wings and bumper and three sheets of thermoformed Kelvx resin, extruded by IPB in Belgium into transparent Veralite 302.

A single, thermoformed sheet of Veralite 302 made from Kelvx resin is used to form the windshield, roof and rear window of the vehicle. Two additional sheets of Veralite 302 from the same converter, are used for the doors in a unique design that allows the doors to slide open and retract into the vehicle’s superstructure.

According to Claude Yviquel, educator, automotive design engineer and designer and promoter of the Osmose City Car, the unique combination of properties of Kelvx resin from Eastman Chemical Company made it possible to turn the original concept into reality. “We evaluated a number of alternative materials such as PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate) and polycarbonate but the combination of properties of Kelvx, especially its excellent thermoformability, its long-term durability and its processing cost advantage, quickly lead us to select this material,” he continued.

Furthermore, the use of Kelvx resin for the Osmose Car glazing brings a consistent weight reduction compared to traditional car glazing materials, resulting in precious energy savings.

Eastman Chemical Company has developed Kelvx resin for outdoor applications such as signs and architectural glazing products. Kelvx offers UV-resistance and chemical resistance to commonly-used products such as oils and detergents, can be thermoformed at lower temperatures than acrylics and polycarbonates and exhibits a much higher impact strength than impact-modified acrylics. The material’s excellent transparency and paintability have been two key advantages for the Osmose City Car application. The unique design of this vehicle calls for large, one-piece thermoformed components that are partly painted and partly left with their intrinsic transparency. Both are key characteristics of Eastman’s Kelvx resin.

The unique combination of properties of Kelvx resin offers processors the benefits of manufacturing flexibility, ease of fabrication, value-in-use, more design freedom and new possibilities for end-product differentiation. The Osmose City Car is a most convincing illustration of this unique combination of characteristics. In addition, Kelvx resin displays high thermoforming detail reproducibility and has won approvals by a number of building codes.
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