Permabond Adhesives – From Super Sonic to Super Solar

Rebecca Wilmot
July 5, 2016


In 1998 Permabond sponsored the THRUST SSC car, which broke the land speed record and officially broke the sound barrier at 763 mph.  So why are we so excited that this year we are sponsoring a car with a top speed of a little over 1/10th of that?

The THRUST SSC gas mileage is listed at 4.8 US gallons per second (18 liters per second), or in conventional terms, its fuel mileage was 0.04 mpg (US gallon).  The solar car designed by Western Michigan University students (SUNSEEKER) is completely solar powered, containing 391 solar cells. The THRUST SSC car is known for the number 763 as in the first car to go 763 mph – the SUNSEEKER is known for its car number, which is 786 (the numbers correspond to the word SUN on a keypad).

American Solar Challenge

The Western Michigan University Sunseeker solar car will be participating in the American Solar Challenge.  The 2016 American Solar Challenge is an 8-day event covering over 1800 miles through 7 states, starting in Brecksville, OH, and traveling to Hot Springs, SD.

solar car team

Not only does this challenge encourage advances in solar technology and provide students with real-world experience, it just looks like an awesome good time!

The Challenge

The kick-off event begins July 22nd in Pittsburgh, PA, with a week of registration, scrutineering, and a two-day qualifying track race.  Then on Saturday, July 30th, the starting line is at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The nine checkpoints are throughout National Parks and Historical sites.

“Building a brand new vehicle for the American Solar Challenge is a monumental task for a team of undergraduate students to undertake for the first time, but support from companies like Permabond make constructing and learning about the processes of composite chassis design and integration a much less formidable task. Our carbon fiber chassis was completely built by our team members and simulated for safety in both harsh road conditions and crash situations and was proved to be stronger and lighter than our previous vehicles, aided by the extensive use of methylmethacrylate adhesives. Going into this summer’s rayce, we know that our tight budget, young team, and completely student-designed vehicle are up against some tough competition, but our aim is to be competitive for the podium at the end of 1800 miles of tough road racing!” (Cameron Knight, Project Manager, Sunseeker Solar Car Project, Western Michigan University)

Wishing them plenty of sun and a great time!  Keep an eye out for 786 crossing the finish line.  Good luck and enjoy the RAYce!

Permabonds Racing History


Permabond has been helping break records in racing for years.  In 1998 we worked on the THRUST SSC car and helped break the sound barrier.  Following is an excerpt from an article on the THRUST SSC

In its early stages, the ThrustSSC team needed assistance with bonding the metal and composite structure of its pioneer vehicle. Simply using rivets to construct THRUST would not have provided the performance and reliability required for a Land Speed Record contender and possibly the first car to travel at supersonic speeds. Reliable products and a reputation for problem-solving drew the team to contact Permabond for help.

Building on extensive experience with transport, aviation, and military applications, Permabond was able to advise the team on all aspects of joining technology and assisted with the development of design specifications and stress analysis to provide the optimum adhesive solution.

From securing nuts and bolts to prevent loosening by vibration, to the structural bonding of the engine framework, Permabond has ensured that no compromises were made in the design and materials used for the project. Titanium, carbon fiber composites, aluminum, and steel are all joined using Permabond’s adhesives – an impossible feat for other securing systems. In addition, the use of adhesives allows better stress distribution and does not impose point loads such as those caused by riveting.

Permabond has helped to eradicate excessive vibration when the vehicle travels at high speeds by bonding the body panels to the car’s framework. Permabond ESP110, a high strength, maximum durability adhesive, has been specified and tested with excellent results, helping to ensure the safety of the car as it hurtles towards the record books.


For the Sunseeker, an MMA was the best option to meet the carbon fiber bonding requirements of the design.  MMA, or methylmethacrylate, adhesives form high-strength bonds to carbon fiber and can have faster strength development than many of the two-component epoxy adhesive formulations available.  True MMA adhesive doesn’t smell the best – but we are working on that too!  Ten years ago, it was the SOUND barrier; now that we’ve got cars running on LIGHT, it is highly possible that advancement in SMELL is next!  But wait – demand for Permabond low odor acrylic adhesives is on the rise.

Regardless of the challenge at hand, our team at Permabond enjoys being part of the front line of technology and the competition.

Ten years ago, when we were working on THRUST, the options for bonding carbon fiber were far fewer than the plethora of adhesive choices we have available today.  One and two-component epoxy adhesive, MMA, structural acrylic adhesive, and polyurethane adhesive are not new adhesive categories, but specialty formulations within each adhesive category provide increases in bond strength, stress distribution, flexibility, and other properties.  Although we pride ourselves on the adhesive advancements we’ve made in the last ten years, we thank the inventors, students, and design engineers that push us daily to concoct better, faster, stronger, lighter, and more environmentally friendly adhesives.

Do you have a bonding or sealing challenge?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact us

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