NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals...

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Skip JayR, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. Skip JayR
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    Skip JayR Tri Enthusiast

    Hi, Folks !

    ... actually I am upset (since longer) about that we boaters and sailors aren't "greent". - Not at all.

    Looking at the boat building process (beside classical wooden boat building) we find lots of chemicals and toxic materials, e.g. using for epoxy, composite (carbon cant be recycled), paintings (antifouling)... not to forget all the skinky diesel engines which don't have a real future (looking at the limited resources of fossil energies many wars and killings are going these days to get or keep control about oil and gas fields).

    Last not but least we use plastic sails (dacron, kevlar, 3D laminates), synthetic sheets and high tech textiles for the sailing clothes... All not healthy for our environment.

    Even without a scientifical proof we have to admit: in total the balance of sailing is "damaging" nature and following generations.

    Some little attempts are going, e.g. in Sweden had been forbidden yachts to enter into marinas/harbours without a holding tank for black water spring 2015 (since 1st April the law regulates that all boats with a toilet must have a holding tank and must be pumped ashore or in tanks or outside 12nm if used).
    To make the dimension clear alone for the tiny sized Sweden which has only 9.5 million inhabitants:

    • 1,000 boat clubs with 250,000 members
    • estimateed 1,000 club harbours and 500 guest harbours
    • number of pleasure boats 881,000 boats all together.
    • cruising boats: 120,000 motorboats and 62,000 sailing boats.

    From that statistics (source) we can imagine what is going in whole Europe with ~500 million members.

    I still can't imagine, that we sailors are really green. Instead... it could be ! We'd just need to open our eyes and learn and make our decisions and choises to force the boat building industries to follow the customer's expectations.

    As I am addicted to multihulls and trimarans there modern boat building is a combination of epoxy and composite (e.g. Foam West System strip planked, epoxy-plywood marine etc. ...). Foam makes the multihulls unsinkable and let the boats work safely as a "life raft" after capsizing.


    Modern synthetic foams (PVC) are used, e.g. Divinycell (Type F and Type H).

    Beside my little bit researches about electric propulsion (e.g. OceanVolt, Torquedo) and solar energy I look around for more healthy boat materials I call them "NatureTech".

    Basically I believe in the nature product "wood". It is a renewable raw material... with a very intelligent architecture of inner structure, leight weighted, elastic and easy to shape with some simple tools. Racing Trimarans had been built leight weighted using wood-composite very long before the hype around 100% carbon multihulls started in the 90th.

    Repairings mostly can be done easily... and the building process can even be learnt by amateurs at low costs as seen in this beautifully video.

    (Rec.: You can get some good eBooks by specialists like Russel Brown about self building boats using wood.)

    To make clear that "wood" is still a modern and competitive boat building material, pls read my post about the 10 meter "Trimaran Barracuda" having built in Denmark in wood (with little bit Kevlar) being competitive against a 100% carbon racing Trimaran (40 ft.) designed by multihull specialist Nigel Irens.

    Today I fell over an interesting product... never have heard before: Wood Foam. The picture shows some rigid foam insulation boards which are 100% wood-based. No chemicals !!

    Accidently I fell over this product via the company Signtific 3D in New Zealand. The company can shape 3D models, prototypes and moulds / cores for rudders etc. ...

    And for these models/cores the Kiwis are using "Wood foam". Citiation:
    It seems this raw material Foam Wood was developed in Germany by researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute as I read in a press release end of April 2015. Citiaton:

    Does anybody use "Wood foam" in boat building experimentaly ? - Any experiences ?

    As stated further by Frauhofer institute (Citiation):

    Take the courage to look for such alternatives. The chemical and synthetic solutoins which are being used in boat building arent a healthy future for our planet.
  2. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Very interesting development. Not sure how applicable it is to boat building but lots of other uses seem possible.
  3. Skip JayR
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    Skip JayR Tri Enthusiast

    There are different aspects in boat building, tom28571. Not only to stiff and fill "empty spaces" of a boat hull and make it unsinkable.

    E.g. Isolation of steel and aluminium hulls. - This relevant aspect for boat building will come into account, as "wood foam" is planned to be used for "isolation of buildings".
    We know from daily life that there is "steam" along inside the walls of buildings. So "Foam wood" must handle condensed water successfully beside the function to isolate against cold and heat.

    For now there is used toxic PVC foam to isloate buildings (and boats)....

    Beside the researches of Fraunhofer Insitute there are going some analysis in USA, too.... as shortly reported in August 2015:

    Read fully news of 08/09/2015 here: "Going Green: Wood Foam Insulation Spray"
  4. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Skip JayR,

    Thanks for the lecture, just what I came for.
    So many half truths I just can't imagine actually responding.

  5. Skip JayR
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    Skip JayR Tri Enthusiast

    upchurchmr aka Mark, in my threads I expect to get critics based on argumentations. And not comments which just target at denunciating and to cast a poor light on somebody. So long you dont find the right words and arguments for your own statements such cynical words do not make lots of sense.

    About lecturing...

    Who am I that I can give a lecture in wood, process engineering or boat building ? - I am not a prof. dr. ... and I am not a boat builder. So by sure I never had, never have and never will have the intention to give some lessons.

    But with a life experience of more than 5 decades on my bones I have an understanding about human man kind, societies and the world of sailing I started nearby 40 years ago. And its legitim to address some questions and to "think outside of the box".

    I am not a "wood specialist" or organic chemist, but stil I can address questions and demand an environment of living which lies in the hand of others, e.g. representatives and members of boat building industries to avoid damaging our environment and that of the future generation.

    It's nothing more than asking... and to get an understanding, as I dont see it positively how the boat building industries has developed its production methods and products for the mass markets.
    Its still old way like I know it from the 80th. Little bit tuning here and there, with some new names of "modern materials". But no big changes over last 20 years.

    As student I worked in a boat building factory in the midth 80th which produced series of epoxy hulls... and in the 90th I had been professional skipper so I have a range of experiences observing a development which does not give me confidence we sailors are on the right track in 21st century. Instead I get different signals from different sub divisions so I still have the confidence (or at least little bit hope), that we might sail "green boats" as amateur sailors one day in closer future. (Source of pictures: ACCIONA 100%EcoPowered, an innovating project.)

    Fact is: alternatives and "green" solutions exist already and had been tested on high seas, even under extreme and worst conditions... but I dont see them being introduced and established expeditiously within the manufacturing processes of boat warfts and suppliers.

    For me it look's like "little bit optimising old methods" here and there, e.g. using "vaccum resign infusion" instead of "hand laying lamination" to reduce weight, material and labour costs. But seeing the huge waste of plastic which is created by the infusion method I get seriously my doubts about a healthy "eco balance". Just one example.

    I am not a scientist... and not urgently I have to be one to see what I see. And to address questions from what I see. And same it is legitim to have a subjectively perspective, as it is a very normal procedure in human man kind to learn from each other, steadily.

    Its the duty of the specialists to give answers for a healthy future of our planet to questions which are addressed by consumers. If there starts a healthy dialogue to learn from each other its on the right track.

    For me personally I dont have stress to address such questions, critically and self critically... look into new directions and being curiously about solutions which might help to reduce the self-imposed problems we humans in modern post industrialized countries are trapped into.

    Everybody who can identify with this attitude is heartly invited to participate in an open discussion. :cool:
  6. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Another Lecture.
    You certainly are impressed with yourself, you have proved that.

    I don't mind a "healthy dialog".
    Pick something and talk about it.
    Not about how everyone else is wrong about everything.

    As you implied, you get to say what you want, and so do I.
  7. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    My comment related to concern about the durability of "wood foam" in a hostile environment. Solid wood of the most durable species has a limited lifetime in marine environments. Porus wood such as red oak which has easy points for moisture entry is very poor and the open nature I see in wood foam looks to be even more susceptable to rot.

    Structural strength of wood foam appears to also be suspect.

    Local wood biomass is currently being harvested on a large scale to make wood pellets for space heating, mostly being shipped to other countries. I see insulating wood foam as a better result than that if it is effective, environmentally viable and economically competitive.
  8. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Totally on point. All the preaching about "wrong" materials doesn't make up for the lack of information on "wood foam" characteristics like water resistance, weight, "strength" , fastening characteristics etc etc
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    " Solid wood of the most durable species has a limited lifetime in marine environments."

    No doubt, but the British Navy used to think a warship hull was good for a century .
    in different levels of service of course.

    In 100 years most trees do grow back.
  10. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    But with regular replacement of various elements.
  11. bpw
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    bpw Senior Member

    Small production, long life durable goods are normally a poor target for "greening" better to spend the time/money/energy on mass produced short life products.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  12. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Makes sense.
  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'd like some more information about the wood to foam process, before I cast dispersions. Any real sites that describe the tree to spray operations?
  14. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The greenest solution is to not build a boat, or pave over to build a boatyard/ marina.

  15. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    I agree with Gonzo.

    The shameless exhibition of conspicuous consumption, described in a nearby thread is almost enough to make me a tree hugger. The thread is all about the biggest sailing yacht ever built.
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