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Recycled carbon fiber, flax lower electric race car's environmental footprint even further

Recycled composites and flax-reinforced composites have been employed to manufacture components for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV, an all-electric prototype racing car that seeks to improve the environmental image of the resource- and fossil fuel-hungry motor racing industry.

Recycled composites and flax-reinforced composites have been employed to manufacture components for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV, an all-electric prototype racing car that seeks to improve the environmental image of the resource- and fossil fuel-hungry motor racing industry.

Jointly developed by Lola Group (Cambridgeshire, UK) and Drayson Racing Technologies, the 850-hp Lola-Drayson B12/69EV is destined to take part in the FIA Formula E World Championship Series for electric vehicles in 2013.



Lola’s use of recycled composite materials follows the completion of a collaborative research and development program involving Umeco (Warwickshire, UK), WMG at the University of Warwick, and ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd. (West Midlands, UK). Carbon fibers from out-of-life MTM49 epoxy prepreg were reclaimed by ELG and then re-impregnated with Umeco’s MTM49 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 fiber stiffness to virgin prepreg. Lola has since manufactured parts for its Lola-Drayson B12/69EV using this product.

Flax edges glass in performance
The application of flax-reinforced composites is the result of a joint research and development program involving Umeco, WMG and Composites Evolution Ltd. (Chesterfield, UK). In this program, Composites Evolution supplied the woven flax material, and Umeco impregnated the material with its MTM28 and MTM49 epoxy resins.

Development activity focussed around Umeco’s MTM28 and MTM49 toughened epoxy resins, originally developed specifically for the manufacture of components requiring high damage tolerance. Lola has since produced a range of components for the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV using MTM28/Biotex Flax and MTM49/Biotex Flax.

Flax fibers have similar mechanical properties to glass fibers, but with much lower weight and environmental impact, and they also have extremely good vibration damping and insulating characteristics. 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 lays claim to the title of one of the world’s most innovative "cleantech" motorsport projects. —[email protected]
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