Why material innovation is the key to a sustainable future
Throughout human history, we have adapted and overcome many challenges. Since the dawn of time, we have searched for materials to enhance everyday life. From tools made from stone to advanced plastics and experimental material sciences, there is no doubt that material innovation can change our lives for the better.
We begin our journey by taking a trip down memory lane. Starting at circa 3000 BCE where early humans, seeking shelter from the elements, stumbled upon nature's primitive toolkit.
Yet, even in the modern world, the enchantment and uses of stone endure. To this day, we see stone materials in almost every direction we look. Even just by looking out the window from Polestar HQ, a stone in marble greets us with its ambitions.
The illuminating metal
Fast-forward to today (well, to 1825), and the discovery of aluminum. We have Danish chemist Hans Christian Ørsted to thank for this lightweight marvel. It revolutionized the transportation industry and transformed the possibilities of design.
Despite its sustainable potential, the ability to recycle aluminum doesn't come without its complications. With over 500 different types of aluminum, recycling plants have a huge task identifying and sorting them. This results in the contamination of different variants and stops the recycled aluminum from being suitable for high-grade applications.
The solution to this is elegantly simple: labeling and color-coding. This enables recyclers to differentiate between grades and recycle them separately, which in turn closes the loop on the material.
Convenience meets conservation
In 1907, Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland synthesized the first plastic and beat his rival to the patent office by one day. Today, it's everywhere. While its flexibility has revolutionized manufacturing, plastics' dependence on fossil resources has sparked a call for change.
One of the most commonly used plastics, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), uses crude oil in its production, which we all know is damaging to the environment.
However, recent work in material science has seen crude oil replaced with pine oil in plastics production. Doing so cuts down greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. The bio-attributed PVC is the first of its kind and is used in the Polestar 3 upholstery, further lowering the carbon footprint of our fleet.
Super-efficiency and levitating trains
Let's venture into a different territory that's also been on many people's radars lately but for different reasons. Semiconductors, as we know, are in huge demand globally.
In the midst of all this, research on superconductors continues. Imagine a world where electricity flows without resistance, where trains levitate, and energy loss becomes a thing of the past.
Not long ago, this was just that – something for the imagination – due to the material requiring ultra-low temperatures or immense pressure in order to work.
However, new developments in a study claim to have achieved a well-above-room-temperature superconducting material at ambient pressure – a feat that basically affects everything that runs on electricity. You can imagine our excitement.
Since the publication of the study, laboratories all over the world are racing to replicate the results. Reports are already coming in with successful outcomes!
An alchemist's dream
From one groundbreaking material to another, we've arrived at a category that blurs the lines between natural and synthetic: composite materials. These fuse the best of both worlds to deliver performance that exceeds the sum of its parts.
At the heart of composites, we find fibers – delicate strands of natural or synthetic origin that form the backbone of these creations. Used in everything from spacecrafts to golf clubs to Polestar 1, there is carbon fiber, perhaps the best-known of all composite materials.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to composites. In Polestar 3, we are using Bcomp's natural fiber composite. The material is made from European-grown flax and is nearly as strong as carbon fiber, but is 40% lighter and uses 50% less virgin plastics than plastic equivalents.
Flax can even be used to revitalize farmland between seasons to prevent exhaustion of the soil.
Mankind's never-ending advancement of technology has meant there has never been a pause in our material innovation.
Now we face a new challenge. How we can continue to live convenient and exciting lives, but reduce our environmental impact. This question is at the forefront of scientific innovation and with time being of the essence, expect the materials we encounter in our day-to-day lives to change dramatically over the coming years.
Downhills and downtowns: meet the mountain bike for all occasions
It's one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. It's also one of the most dangerous. But for its advocates, mountain biking brings a sense of freedom, exhilaration and adventure unmatched in the sporting world. Don't believe us? We recently sat down with Swedish mountain bike Olympian Emil Lindgren to discuss his first biking memories, his favourite trails and why he's spearheading the next wave of Scandinavian riders.
Beyond the Road: Hannah Catmur
Welcome to Polestar Beyond the Road. In this new content series, we will meet Polestar owners from around the world to explore their stories. First up is tech aficionado Hannah Catmur. From pitching apps to Tim Cook to travelling through the South American jungles, her story is one worth telling.
Is Quiet Luxury the next big thing in mobility?
You may have seen it on your TV screens recently. Your favorite fashion influencer has probably enthused about it on TikTok. Or maybe you've read one of the countless editorials that litter the lifestyle pages of glossy magazines. Unknowingly or not, the latest trend taking over the fashion industry has almost certainly touched your life. But dig a little deeper and you start to discover two things. Firstly, this trend isn't just limited to the fashion world. And secondly, it's not really a trend at all. Welcome to the wonderfully rarefied world of quiet luxury.