Evonik is already part of cars, ships, and aircraft—all made quieter, more economical, and more environmentally friendly by our specialty chemicals. We work with the manufacturers and supplier companies on new, efficient, and sustainable solutions for the mobility of tomorrow, ranging from the substitution of raw materials based on mineral oil to energy-saving production processes, improved component recycling capabilities, and raw materials recovery. The resource-friendly production and sustainable operation of new electric vehicles and their energy storage systems would also be unimaginable without specialty chemicals from Evonik. We venture a look into the future of mobility, and at the same time work intensively to pave the way there.
Tomorrow’s vehicles will be highly automated. They’ll stop at red lights of their own accord, select the fastest route, and warn one another of dangers. That’s why they are equipped with numerous assistance systems. Special resins from Evonik make it possible to manufacture highly complex electronics in miniature packages.
In automated vehicles, steering wheels and gearshifts will make way for design and comfort. Car seats will become lounge chairs, displays will be mobile offices or movie screens. Additives from Evonik give interior materials a special look and feel and open up greater creative freedom for designers.
A car of my own? No thanks! We’ll buy access to mobility—not the means of transport. When you need it, you order it from a sharing provider via an app. When you reach your destination, the vehicle will continue to its next passenger. Downtimes will be minimized, and the inner cities will breathe again. At the same time, the vehicle will cover more distance per day. Process additives and high-performance polymers from Evonik protect the parts against wear and increase their service lives.
Incidentally, to ensure that the last passenger has just as pleasant a ride as the first, the vehicles are cleaned frequently. No one wants their ride to smell of the previous passenger’s lunch or of his or her visit to the gym. Interior materials absorb less odors thanks to absorbers from Evonik, and thanks to additives from the same source, they still look like new even after frequent contact with cleaning agents.
Hydrogen-fueled long-distance transport
The trucks, trains, and long-distance buses of the future will be fueled by hydrogen. A fuel cell transforms hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy that drives a motor. Instead of exhaust gases, the process generates heat and water vapor. It’s absolutely clean. Another advantage for long-distance transport is that the vehicles have a significantly longer range than battery-powered cars. For hydrogen-fueled vehicles, the tricky part is the tanks, which need to withstand extremely strong internal pressure but must also be lightweight and accident-proof. All of these requirements are met by fiber-reinforced materials. The fibers, which are embedded in a special resin from Evonik, make the materials especially robust and durable.
In the future, drones will deliver pizza and packages, perform courier services on company sites, and transport urgently needed medicines in geographic areas that are hard to access such as islands, mountains, and deserts. The multicopters will take off from the roofs of electronic delivery vehicles or directly from distribution centers located outside densely populated urban areas. This will save time and relieve traffic congestion. To make sure the whir of helicopter blades above our heads does not become a stress factor, the gears of the drones’ drive systems could be made of high-performance polymer from Evonik. Plastic gears are quieter and lighter than metal ones.
Lightweight construction is an important key to the careful treatment of our planet. Every kilogram of reduced weight means fewer resources used, less consumption of energy, and lower emissions. Lightweight construction makes an especially big difference to the logistics heavyweights: ships and airplanes. For example, an 80-meter-long ship’s hull made of steel weighs 300 tons, but one made of fiber-reinforced materials weighs only 60 tons, or one fifth as much. Moreover, plastic ship’s hulls can be built faster and do not rust. Evonik provides the special resins for these new lightweight materials.
Making mobility sustainable remains one of the greatest challenges. Evonik is conducting research on renewable alternatives to petroleum-based materials. For example, flax is being used to make rear-window shelves and interior paneling. In the future, it may also be used for load-bearing components.
To ensure that cars, ships, and airplanes don’t simply end up as rubbish at the end of their life cycles, Evonik is working to improve the recyclability of components and to recover raw materials from them. For example, thanks to special process additives, high-quality products can be produced from old car tires.