US-based PPG, a Fortune 500 company, announced that it has entered into a partnership with Solar Team Eindhoven, a student organisation at Eindhoven University of Technology, to create the Stella Terra, an innovative off-road vehicle powered entirely by solar energy.

As part of its $5M (€4.7M) environmental sustainability education commitment, PPG has invested €35,000 in Solar Team Eindhoven as a grant. 

The student team has long worked on its goal to create innovative and highly efficient solar-powered vehicles with an aim to advance sustainable transportation. 

The team plans for the Stella Terra project to eliminate the need for charging stations and paved roads. The vehicle is set to embark on a rigorous testing journey in Morocco this October. The testing will also include trials in the Sahara desert.

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Special fire-protection coating

The Stella Terra vehicle is specially designed to endure challenging off-road environments. As a company specialising in paints, coatings, and speciality materials, PPG says it is actively providing its PPG CORACHAR fire protection coating to safeguard Stella Terra’s lithium-ion battery pack for that very purpose.

“A risk of Li-ion batteries is that they can experience thermal runaway,” Wisse Bos, team manager of Solar Team Eindhoven, says. “While the probability of this failure occurring is rather slim, we decided to partner with PPG to minimise the effects of such a severe accident.” 

“PPG’s cutting-edge innovations on battery coatings make it possible for Terra’s drivers and its surroundings to evacuate in a worst-case scenario by stalling the spread of a battery fire,” Bos adds.

The PPG CORACHAR battery fire protection coatings actively expand when exposed to high heat or fire. The expansion creates an insulating shield against thermal damage. 

PPG’s 2030 sustainability goals

PPG has set an ambitious 2030 sustainability goal, validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. The company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent from 2019 levels. 

PPG says its sustainability approach is rooted in integrity, safety, environmental responsibility, and community support. The Pittsburgh-based company’s goals align well with the Stella Terra project, which creates an off-road solar-powered vehicle to reduce emissions and promote sustainable transportation. 

“The project supports PPG’s goals of developing sustainably advantaged technologies and supporting sustainability education,” Thierry Destruhaut, PPG Sustainability Director Automotive, says.

“Through this investment, we aim to support educational activities related to clean energy and the future of mobility and help prepare the next generation of leaders to understand the impacts of climate change.”

PPG’s global community engagement initiatives, alongside the PPG Foundation, actively work to enhance the vibrancy of PPG communities worldwide. In 2022, the company allocated approximately €15.31M to support over 35 countries through hundreds of organisations. 

The company’s investment primarily focuses on education to nurture the current skilled workforce and foster future innovators in the coatings and manufacturing sectors.

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