ecoSUP no more oil based materials

In Germany a group of Engineers and SUP Enthusiast are working on a concept to come up with more sustainable materials for SUPs and Surfboards in general. Regardeless where you are on the planet. It is important to understand that only a unified effort will help curbing pollution and climate change.

As part of the watersport industry, we want to do our part and helping to spread the word of any kind of environmental efforts taking place in our industry.

Please have a look at ecoSUP and their goals. We translated some of the key infos of their website.

You can support ecoSUP via crowdfunding. This is the link to their page.

Whats the project about?

The production of surf equipment and accessories is not very environmentally friendly so far. Usually, conventional surfboards are made of petroleum-based plastics. Inflatable boards, so-called iSUPs, consist mainly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the solid hardboards are made of polystyrene or polyurethane in the core. Polyester or epoxy resins are used for the coating and reinforced with glass and carbon fiber fabrics. This is exactly what we want to change and develop a completely ecological SUP hardboard made of recycled and natural materials: the “ecoSUP”. Our first development attempts have already led to promising results.

For the core we use balsa wood from disused rotor blades of wind turbines. These accumulate as waste after their life cycle. In order to achieve the longest possible CO2 binding, it makes sense to find material recycling possibilities for the balsa wood instead of simply burning it. For the raw material balsa wood we create a new recycling cycle and reduce our CO2 emissions in the long term. The shell of the “ecoSUP” is to consist of 100% natural biopolymer. Here we are concentrating on the use of flax fibers, as they have excellent mechanical properties and are grown in Europe.

What are the goals and target audience?

SUP boards made of recycled and natural materials would make water sports even more environmentally friendly. Nowhere else is the human intervention in nature as evident as on the water. Gigantic garbage patches, plastic in the stomachs of marine mammals or animals trapped in leftover packaging are visible signs of our throwaway society. We want to bring the environmentally friendly surfboard from a niche product to a broad application, using only natural and recycled materials.

Initially, we are focusing on SUP hardboards, because the material is already exposed to various influences such as moisture, salt water, UV radiation and mechanical stress. The developed lightweight composite material could be adapted for other water sports boards (e.g. surfboards, kiteboards) and leisure articles (e.g. skateboards). Our vision goes even further: our technology could be used in boat building (e.g. cabin partitions, hull) or in the mobility sector (e.g. railroads, automotive industry), which would reduce our ecological footprint in the long term.

Why should you support this project?

Due to maximum weight savings, lightweight construction is considered a technology of the future, but it generally makes use of fossil resources. If we succeed in developing lightweight construction materials from renewable resources, we could create new perspectives for entire sectors and industries and make our everyday life more environmentally compatible.

The “ecoSUP” would be the first example where we show that bio-lightweight construction material is a real alternative to conventional plastics. To ensure its competitiveness, we are subjecting the new bio-hybrid material to various tests. It is intended to be not only more ecological, but also particularly durable due to its high specific strength, and to offer technical advantages for lightweight construction applications.

What happens to the money after funding?

The achievement of the first funding target (14,000 €) helps to purchase material and special tools for the first “ecoSUP”. To produce the prototype, we optimize the balsa wood foam and develop a suitable bio-based polyester resin. We subject the manufactured materials to series of tests on mechanical properties, processability and durability using accelerated aging simulation in climate chambers. Afterwards, the prototype is donated to a non-profit organization.

The second funding target (25.000 €) is for the development of accessories, such as paddles, fins and fin boxes – parallel to the “ecoSUP”. We also subject these accessories to intensive practical tests regarding influences such as salt water, UV radiation or mechanical stress. After our tests, we also make this additional equipment available to a non-profit organization.