The Mini 6.5 successfully launched on the ocean earlier this year
A prototype boat that features a mono-hull constructed entirely from recyclable thermoplastic composites has been successfully launched on the ocean.
The ‘Mini 6.5’ is the latest project resulting from an ongoing partnership between from France-based chemicals company, Arkema, and Lalou Multi, an SME specialising in ocean racing, which aims to develop the latest materials innovations for sailing boats.
The hull and the bridge of the 6.5 m boat are made entirely from recyclable thermoplastic composite, thanks to the use of Arkema’s ‘Elium’ resin, infused with carbon fibre. 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, unlike those resins, recyclable.
“This is an answer to the major issue of the treatment of end-of-life composites,” explained Daniel Le Bouvier, Head of the Nanopolymers Department at Arkema.
“Arkema is the first company to be marketing a resin of this type, and the Arkema 3 Mini 6.50 is the first boat built with this type of resin to be sailing the oceans.”
Elium, available worldwide, 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.
In addition to the use of composites produced with Elium, the boat also features other new materials innovations from Arkema, including adhesives from its Bostik business unit, 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 polyurethane adhesive.
The cockpit windows and the hood were made from ‘Altuglas ShieldUp’, an acrylic material that is transparent like glass, but lighter and able to withstand extreme conditions.
Following its successful launch in the summer, the Mini 6.5 is now undergoing further testing and sea trials before being entered in the Mini-Transat race in 2017.