Boat Made from Recyclable Thermoplastic Composite Materials
Lightweight and Recyclable
Arkema and Lalou Multi have cooperated to develop and construct a boat made from recyclable thermoplastic composite materials. The hull and the bridge of the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3 “Innovation” prototype sailboat are made entirely from a recyclable thermoplastic composite, thanks to the Elium resin, infused with carbon fiber.
A genuine technological feat in boat building, this boat is the fruit of the open innovation venture set up between Arkema, a world chemicals major, and Lalou Multi ‐ TPE run by Lalou Roucayrol and specializing in ocean racing.
Elium is a liquid thermoplastic acrylic resin. It is processed in the same way as the resins traditionally used in boat building, and features all their mechanical properties, but is recyclable unlike those resins. This means that end‐of‐life parts made from this resin can be ground and reused to manufacture new parts. This is an answer to the major issue of the treatment of end‐of‐life composites. Arkema is the first company to be marketing a resin of this type, and the mini 6.50 Arkema 3 “Innovation” will be the first boat built with this type of resin to be sailing the oceans.
Its thermoplastic nature makes the Elium resin post‐formable and recyclable. Furthermore, it is 30 to 50% lighter than steel and just as tough, it lends itself to complex designs and shapes, and it can be perfectly combined with fibreglass or carbon fiber.
Daniel Lebouvier, Technical Coordinator of the project at Arkema, explains: "To begin with, Elium applications were aiming at composites with fibreglass using the RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) technique. In the case of the prototype, the infusion and carbon fiber technique was used. This was a more challenging situation in which we had no experience, in particular to manufacture large components. So we had to find the right conditions and fine‐tune the product. We were able to do this, despite the tight timetable, thanks to very close collaboration between the Lalou Multi team, Romaric Neyhousser, and Arkema’s research teams.”
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