New resins from suppliers adhere to clients’ increased demands for eco-friendly, customized solutions.

The team at Kamanu Composites in Kailua, Hawaii, has a laid-back personality, but it was ultra-serious about wanting to find a more environmentally friendly way to produce its outrigger canoes.

Envisioning a new canoe made of renewable, low-impact materials such as balsa, cork, hemp and flax, the Kamanu Composites team searched for a bio-resin epoxy with reinforcement from a traditional carbon fiber composite.

It found an answer in SuperSap INF, a new “green” resin from Entropy Resins, Gardena, Calif. As opposed to traditional epoxies made primarily of petroleum-based materials, SuperSap formulations contain bio-renewable materials sourced as a co-product or from waste streams of other industrial processes.

The natural components of SuperSap have excellent elongation and exceptionally high adhesion properties, according to Rey Banatao, Ph.D., head of polyester chemistry at Entropy Resins. With a viscosity ideal for hand layup processes and fast cures in ambient temperatures, it can be used as a laminating resin, a coating resin, or an adhesive, he says.

“We have a firm belief that there is no better chemist than Mother Nature,” Banatao says. “We strive to develop material solutions that strike a perfect balance between performance and environmental sustainability.”

All Entropy resins employ a minimum of 16 percent plant-based material. The source of this material is from the waste stream of bio-diesel production that uses rapidly renewable biomass as it source, making users of the company’s resins eligible for LEED credits from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Balancing “Green” and Performance

Stricter EPA regulations, along with state and federal guidelines on health and safety in the workplace, have prompted more composites firms to produce products that are both user-friendly and environmentally safe.

While few composites pros question the notion that “green” is good, resin suppliers face the question: What actually constitutes green? Suppliers say resin formulation is closely tied to chemistry advancements, so as chemistries evolve to include bio-materials and nanotechnology, resin formulators achieve incremental improvements to accomplish green aims without sacrificing performance.