Case Studies

Precision dry ice cleaning system allows motorsport team to remove powder coating from a race car

THE SITUATION

In 1981, the U.S. launched the Formula SAE® (Society of Automotive Engineers) – a competition to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers by challenging university students to conceive, design, build, cost, present and compete as a team with a small, single-seat racing car in a series of static and dynamic competitions. The format of the event is such that it provides an ideal opportunity for the students to demonstrate and improve their capabilities to deliver a complex and integrated product in the demanding environment of a motorsport competition.

Today, the competition has expanded and includes a number of spin off events. Formula Student is a similar SAE-sanctioned event in the UK and the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI) holds the Formula Student Germany (FSG) competition at Hockenheimring, Germany. The FSG is a global design competition for students that has similar rules to the Formula SAE and is sponsored by the Deutscher Ingenieure e. V. (German Engineers) association.In this competition, teams design and build a single seat formula race car to compete in Formula 1 races against teams from all over the world.

In the Formula Student competition, the winner is not the fastest car but the team who develops the best overall package in construction, racing performance, financial planning and sales arguments.To determine the best vehicle, a jury of experts from the motorsport, automotive and supplier industries rate the teams according to static disciplines: design, cost and business plan. Additionally, the students demonstrate the vehicles on the racetrack in various dynamic disciplines to show how their cars prove in practice.

 

“The University of Giessen has promoted this project since 2008,” said Stefan Porth, responsible for organization and test management for the team. “It is very interesting because you gain insight into the construction of a vehicle. In addition, you also learn practical use. We currently have 26 students from the areas of engineering, business management apprenticeship, electrical engineering and industrial engineering and two professors who are happy to offer advice.”

 

THE PROBLEM

In the 2012-2013 season, the successful F21-12 car served as the basis for some modifications. The F21-12b is not a newly designed car but is a systematic further development.

In particular, the engine cooling, tank and oil supply gave repeatedly significant problems in the past which could be largely prevented by new developments. Furthermore, the chassis was completely redesigned and individually made of carbon and the seat and overflow tanks were revised.The most noticeable improvements include the outside of the car which included upgrading to the THM layout this year.

In order to make changes to the tubular frame – such as attachment points for the safety belt, various supports for the water cooler, dry sump tanks and to be able to make a change in the front crash structure – the powder coating first had to be removed from the previous model.

 

THE SOLUTION

The THM Motorsports team investigated various methods to find which would be most appropriate to remove the powder coating. They found the right solution while visiting the EuroMold trade show in Frankfurt, Germany. It was there that they were introduced to Cold Jet’s dry ice cleaning technologies.

Cold Jet recognized the importance of this design competition and arranged for a demonstration between the THM team and HS Blasting — a contract cleaner located in Weitefeld who owns their dry ice cleaning machines. The team appreciated Cold Jet’s efficiency for this project and, after a successful demonstration, decided to use dry ice cleaning to remove the coating.

Cold Jet’s dry ice cleaning systems use non-abrasive media in the form of recycled CO2 particles, accelerated at high velocities without damaging surfaces. The combination of dry ice cleaning’s kinetic energy and thermal effect breaks the connection between the coats of resin and the surface, lifting away the coating. Unlike blasting with other media, dry ice cleaning does not leave behind any secondary waste because the dry ice particles sublimate on impact – converting from a solid to a gas. Dry ice cleaning is safe, non-toxic, does not create downstream contamination and reduces exposure to dangerous chemical cleaning agents. Cold Jet dry ice cleaning systems are an effective method in a variety of cleaning applications — from cleaning delicate materials to removing weld slag from automobile assembly lines.

Dry ice cleaning was specifically successful with this project because of the need for a delicate cleaning method to ensure that the frame of the car remained undamaged.

 

“The most important aspect for me was that dry ice cleaning eliminated the secondary waste aspect you would have had with sand blasting,” said Porth. “This saved us a lot of cleanup work.”

 

Bodo Wloch, Cold Jet’s Technical Sales Rep West, added, ”Our dry ice cleaning systems are more common and are being used in more industries as the preferred environmentally responsible cleaning method for both cleaning and surface preparation applications. Removing a powder coating without damaging the surface is not an easy task but we can do it with Cold Jet systems. Whatever the application – from sensitive parts to very dirty surfaces, dry ice cleaning provides a solution to each unique challenge.”

 

THE RESULTS

The THM Motorsports Team had competed against 74 competitors from Europe and overseas. With an engine capacity of 599 ccm and a power of 63 kW (86 hp), the vehicle went from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 3.9 seconds. They placed 23rd in the combustion engine category and were highly satisfied with their results. Their goal was to end up in the first half of the participants, which they accomplished.

On top of a successful finish, the THM Motorsports team won a special award for the best prepared vehicle for technical inspection, due mostly in part to dry ice cleaning.

 

“We are satisfied with the results of our race car and look forward to the coming season,” concluded Porth.