Marine Equipment Made of Natural Fibers

Natural fibers can be sourced from plablog3-1nts such as oil palm, sisal, flax, ramie, hemp, kenaf, and jute. These plants specifically produce cellulose fibers in stems, leaves, seed, grass, or reeds. They are known to be relatively low weight, low cost, cause less damage to processing equipment, and have the strength and flexibility to create improved surface finishes of molded composite parts called natural reinforced polymer composites (NFPCs).

This sustainable material is being tested for use in the design and construction of new boats. Biocomposites—like jute or flax fiber—may replace non-ecological materials like fiberglass panels and steel fittings in marine construction to promote waste recycling, reduce weight – and therefore, fuel consumption – in racing yachts and superyachts and significantly lighten large passenger ships. Depending on the size of the ship, a superstructure uses 5-10% less energy maintaining stability with biocomposite than when using the equivalent in fiberglass.

In 2009, a French engineer, Corentin de Chatelperron, built a sailboat made entirely of jute fiber in Bangladesh to demonstrate that natural materials found around the world could permanently replace fiberglass on an industrial scale, from power boats to swimming pools. The marine sector only represents 10% of the world’s fiberglass market, so the potential impact is huge.

It takes very thin fibers from glass to make fiberglass and it requires heating it to 1500 degrees which consumes a lot of energy. The waste won’t burn and must be buried.  Biodegradable jute and other fibers are easily recycled and used as fuel.

Fiber Hull

France has been replacing fiberglass with flax fiber for many years. Corentin replaced 40% of his boat’s fiberglass hull with jute fiber and added resin, then built a second boat hull of 100% jute with no fiberglass at all.

He sailed successfully from Bangladesh to France and has since sailed halfway around the world. He financed a research center to make jute fabric designed for boat building; making the fibers directly into fabric, not thread. Rather than twisting fibers, this fabric is created with parallel fibers adhered with polymer resin for better performance and strength. Newer resins called thermoplastics are partially biosourced and partly organic and have improved the process. They can also be melted and reused.

blog3-2Fiber Fittings

Different natural fibers are found in many regions of the world and are customarily used to make cordage. Loops of biocomposite high-strength rope made by Dyneema, Kevlar, and Polybenzoxazole (PBO) are used with blocks and deck fittings made of textile rather than metal. Each component is stronger than stainless steel and about ten times lighter.

Flexible material allows each part the ability to move in any direction without metal to metal contact, eliminating noise and resisting abrasion and fatigue which causes stainless steel to fail. Composites have rounded curves rather than sharp edges.

Plant fiber composites perform better, generate less load, require less material to build, and cost less. They are renewable and abundant resources that are biodegradable and minimize health hazards.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 at 12:22 pm and is filed under All Natural, Jute, Plant Fiber.

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