Scientists use renewable lightweight materials to make stand-up paddleboards

Aug 21 - 2021

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Although stand-up paddleboards are very environmentally friendly to use, they are usually made of less environmentally friendly materials, according to a foreign media report. German scientists are trying to change this situation with a stand-up paddleboard made entirely of sustainable materials, which come in part from old wind turbine blades.

Typically, a stand-up paddleboard consists of a petroleum-based polystyrene foam core surrounded by a composite shell containing non-renewable materials such as epoxy, polyester resin or polyurethane. Often, separating these materials from each other for recycling is quite difficult.

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Under the leadership of scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, in collaboration with colleagues from the Technical University of Braunschweig, a more environmentally friendly alternative has been created. The core of the new stand-up paddleboard is a lightweight foam made from balsa wood harvested from the core of discarded wind turbine blades. After using a hammer mill to separate large pieces of wood from the fiberglass-reinforced plastic shell around the blades, the wood is finely ground and mixed with water to form "a kind of cake batter" that is then processed into a strong, lightweight foam that holds together without the addition of any adhesives.

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The researchers then used a hand lay-up and vacuum infusion process to sandwich the core inside a rigid watertight shell made of woven flax fibers combined with an entirely bio-based polymer. The researchers hope that the finished stand-up paddleboard will be ready for demonstration by the end of next year. If the technology proves successful, it could conceivably be used in the construction of buildings, ships and cars as well. Interestingly, the company already incorporates discarded coconut shell fibers into its paddleboards and surfboards, with the result that less epoxy resin is needed in the manufacturing.

By:Gladys