The Lotus Elise - featuring a new stronger, easy to recycle plastic - SrPP
Scientists have produced trial parts for a Lotus Elise that are 57 per cent lighter than the components they replace.
Lotus Engineering is one of the partners in the so-called RECYCLE project, a two-year research programme, which is examining ways to apply a special new plastic material that is six times stronger than normal plastic, yet is both light and 100 per cent recyclable.
The new material is called Self-reinforced PolyPropylene (SrPP), and is made by stretching and aligning molecules within the plastic itself by a complex heating and weaving process that imparts high mechanical strength. But until now this new, much stronger material, has proved difficult to shape, join and paint for mass production.
But the SMMT Foresight Vehicle RECYCLE engineers have now overcome the problems and have perfected special techniques that will allow car makers and others to mass-produce parts using SrPP. As partners in the Foresight programme, Lotus has provided the Foresight team with a real-world test-bed in the form of a GRP-bodied Elsie.
According to Forseight scientists, SrPP is much smoother than glass fibre reinforced plastics and it is safer to handle by human operators.