Press release
April 14, 2008

Thirty percent of automotive innovations are chemical

Evonik at the 2008 SAE Conference in Detroit. Objective: Integration of Material and Processing into a Single System

The annual World Congress of Automotive Engineers in Detroit is a permanent entry in the calendars of car manufacturers and their engineers—but sub suppliers at various levels also meet here regularly. The main topics for 2008 were largely the same as in preceding years. Saving fuel, reducing CO2 emissions, and cutting weight continue to pose challenges; only the solutions to these problems are continually changing, with chemistry playing an ever more important role. Essen, Germany-based Evonik Industries, a specialty chemicals group, estimates that about 30 percent of innovations in the automotive sector now originate in the laboratories of chemical companies.

The Chemicals Business Area of Evonik Industries (formerly Degussa) has for many years responded to the needs of buyers through its Automotive Industry Team (AIT). The Team’s activities are described as being "catalytic" in character, albeit in both directions: On the one hand, chemical expertise is imported into the automotive industry; on the other, researchers and developers at Evonik receive valuable information on the technological goals of the car makers.

Participants of the Congress of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which takes place between April 14 and 17, will learn where this collaboration between car manufacturers and their suppliers has already led, and where it will lead in the future.

The climate debate as a driving force for SEPARION®

To take an example, the climate debate has infused the hybrid vehicle, and therefore the battery issue, with a new dynamism. The future will probably belong to the smaller, lighter, and more efficient lithium-ion battery. This type of battery uses the ceramic SEPARION® membrane from Evonik, which significantly improves safety. The increased safety allows capacity to be increased to the order of ampere-hours, which is a prerequisite for the use of hybrid or fully electric cars.

It is well known that an efficient engine not only saves fuel but also reduces the rolling resistance of tires. This in turn means that less carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Evonik claims that the use of its VP Si 363 rubber silane, one of the most important additives for tires, allows rolling resistance to be reduced by more than 10 percent and fuel consumption by between 3 and 8 percent. The product is environmentally friendly also in that its use suppresses by more than 80 percent the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) formed during tire manufacture.

Another important means of reducing CO2 emissions is through the use of optimized lubricants. According to Evonik Industries, the additive VISCOPLEX®, for example, improves the flow properties of a lubricant and therefore the efficiency of engines and gear units. Fuel consumption, and hence CO2 emissions, are reduced. Test-bed measurements on engines and gear units in accordance with internationally acknowledged test criteria indicated a total reduction of 6 percent in fuel consumption, with carbon dioxide being reduced in exactly the same proportion.

The efforts of car makers in the direction of lightweight body construction could also result in sustainable fuel savings. Body and structural components could be reduced by up to one-third in comparison to common steel parts. The solution to the problem carries the Evonik product name ROHACELL®. This is a very light but strong and highly heat-resistant structural foam made from polymethacrylimide (PMI). This is combined with resin and carbon-fiber fabric to give a hardened composite material of extreme rigidity and low weight. Moreover, the heat resistance makes short production cycles possible, allowing attainment of the automotive industry's cost targets.

The Chemicals Business Area of Evonik is also showcasing at the Detroit SAE Congress an Acrylite rear window, which in an experimental VW Golf has resulted in a weight saving of 73.5 percent relative to the glass variant. Lighter vehicles also eliminate the need for spot welding: The use of just one kilogram of Evonik epoxy resin takes 25 kg off the weight of a car. And in view of the increasingly important use of biofuels in the future, Evonik has come up with some technically sophisticated solutions in Detroit, including a new generation of VESTAMID® multi-layer tube systems. These polymer molding compounds allow for the first time safe admixing of up to 85 percent ethanol into conventional gasolines.

Company information

Evonik Industries is the creative industrial group from Germany which operates in three business areas: Chemicals, Energy and Real Estate. Evonik is a global leader in specialty chemicals, an expert in power generation from hard coal and renewable energies, and one of the largest private residential real estate companies in Germany. Our strengths are creativity, specialization, continuous self-renewal, and reliability. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In its fiscal year 2007 about 43,000 employees generated sales of about €14.4 billion and an operating profit (EBIT) of more than €1.3 billion (preliminary figures).


In so far as forecasts or expectations are expressed in this press release or where our statements concern the future, these forecasts, expectations or statements may involve known or unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may vary, depending on changes in the operating environment. Neither Evonik Industries AG nor its group companies assume an obligation to update the forecasts, expectations or statements contained in this release.