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Mini 650 Arkema : a boat from recyclable thermoplastic composit materials

mercredi 9 mars 2016Redaction SSS [Source RP]

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

JEC World 2016, a world-renowned trade fair currently held in Paris, was the event chosen by Arkema and Lalou Multi to unveil one of the major innovations of their brand new Mini 6.50 Arkema 3 “Innovation” prototype sailboat. The hull and the bridge of this 6.5 m boat were made entirely from a recyclable thermoplastic composite, thanks to the Elium® resin, infused with carbon fibre.

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 specialising in ocean racing.

A world first !

Daniel Lebouvier, Technical Coordinator of the project at Arkema : “This 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 (a topic that is dear to the heart of skipper Lalou Roucayrol). 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 collaboration between Arkema and Lalou Multi, also called “open innovation”, driven by a quest for innovation and technological development, has never been so tangible. Following the developments brought in to the Arkema Multi 50 trimaran since 2012, a veritable showcase of the products and know-how of this global chemicals group, the construction of a Mini 6.50 prototype is now highly consistent with this approach.

Fabienne Roucayrol, Project Manager at Lalou Multi : “As part of discussions on the 2014 – 2018 partnership with Arkema, and mindful of further developing the Group’s products, Lalou Multi put forward the construction of a new boat, the objective being that this Mini 6.50 should be a showcase for Arkema products as well as our know-how in their processing, in particular with this new innovative resin. Following R&D work over eighteen months and countless processing tests, we hit upon the right recipe in December 2015. The hull and the bridge of this new boat are made entirely from the Elium® recyclable composite resin ! This major innovation complements the many innovations introduced in the boat itself by architect Romaric Neyhousser.”

Thechnical Caracteristics :

Elium® is the first liquid thermoplastic resin to be used to manufacture composite parts. It 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.

• 30 to 50% lighter than steel and just as tough

• Lends itself to complex designs and shapes

• Can be perfectly combined with fibreglass or carbon fibre.

A successful challenge !

The construction of the boat was planned like a genuine research project. This new resin, fresh out of Arkema’s laboratories, had never been used in this type of manufacture.

Daniel Lebouvier : “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 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.”

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