Arkema and race boat specialist Lalou Multi unveiled a prototype of a sailboat with a hull and bridge made entirely from recyclable thermoplastic composites. Both parts of the sailboat, dubbed the mini 6.50 Arkema 3 “Innovation,” were made with Elium® resin infused with carbon fiber.

“This liquid acrylic resin 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,” said Daniel Lebouvier, General Manager at Arkema. “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.”

The resin is processed using straightforward methods identical to those used for thermoset resins, and features mechanical properties that are similar to epoxy resins. Its thermoplastic nature makes the Elium resin post‐formable and recyclable.

“To begin with, Elium applications were aiming at composites with fiberglass using the RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) technique,” said Lebouvier. “In the case of the prototype, the infusion and carbon fibre 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.”

Adhesives from Baltimore-based Bostik US were also used for the structural assembly of the boat. In particular, the bulkheads and the bridge were glued to the hull with methacrylate and MS Polymers™ adhesives, and the foamed structures were assembled using a polyurethane adhesive.

Skipper Quentin Vlamynck will race “Innovation” for the first time in July 2016. To see more about the process of making the hull, watch the video below.