Builders must navigate the sometimes treacherous waters between market demands and government regulation. At the same time, consumers are becoming more demanding and knowledgeable. More than ever before, these external drivers are requiring builders and designers to explore new materials and processes -- and to challenge the assumptions and practices of the past. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) is demanding stricter controls on emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). And today, you can't watch television without seeing another new commercial about going "green". To meet this emerging demand Calyber Boatworks was one of the first boat builders to pioneer new closed molding processes, materials and techniques and finding that significant benefits can be realized.
These benefits include higher performance products, better working conditions, increased plant capacity, and best of all - reducing air and landfill pollution in the process.
One luxury Sportfish boat builder in Edenton, NC is cutting through these rough seas at full throttle. Calyber Boatworks is combining state-of-the art "Fly by wire" propulsion systems and building methods on a 35 Express to create a "mean, green fishing machine".
Using state-of-the-art materials from companies like Vectorply and DIAB, Calyber has implemented a building process that not only reduces air pollution by about 80%, but also produces a hull that is up to 4 times stronger.
How is this done? It's a process called Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM), otherwise known as vacuum infusion. Dry fiberglass reinforcements are tacked into place, a vacuum bagging film is sealed around the mold edge and a vacuum is then drawn on the system. A valve is opened and resin is sucked (technically pushed by one atmosphere of pressure) into and through the glass reinforcements. Resin infusion reduces VOC emissions by eliminating the exposure of liquid resin to the open air. No overspray is produced, less cleaning solutions and Tyvek suits are used, and fiber weight is increased from about 30% to 65%Additionally, the glass reinforcement is long continuous and straight fibers that are applied dry, giving time for proper and more consistent placement making for a higher quality part.
This is achieved by using a stitch-bonded reinforcement fabric that was engineered for vacuum infusion rather than random chopped fibers mixed with resin or the classic woven fibers. According to Bob Schartow of Vectorply Corporation, "It's important to consider not only fiber orientation to maximize strength, but that the fibers are continuous rather than chopped, and straight rather than crimped like they are in woven reinforcements."
Basically, the strength of composite structures comes from the reinforcement, not from the resin. "Anyone that has taken high school shop class knows that when gluing wood you clamp them together as tight as possible. The strength is in the fiber, not the glue. That is what vacuum infusion is doing.", says Trevor Sherrick, Calyber's president. "It applies over a ton of pressure per square foot of area." On a 6' x 8' panel that's over 100,000 lbs! And it reduces the amount of resin to a minimum. An increase in the glass fiber content on a percent by weight basis will cause a corresponding increase in strength. Add to that, care in the direction of each continuous, non-crimped fiber roving and it leads to an exceptionally strong part. "If I were to run aground with my family in the boat, I certainly would rather have mostly glass fiber than brittle resin" he goes on to say. This factor is why you will find high performance parts made using this process.
To say that making a strong, battle wagon of a sport fisher is important to Calyber is an understatement. One could do all this to make thinner laminates that are just as strong, not Calyber. Using software called VectorLam from Vectorply, and according to calculations using Det Norske Veritas (DNV) ship building design methodology, the Calyber 35 Express hull is about 6 times over the DNV safety margin of 3 times for strength and stiffness.
So how is it that making a stronger and higher quality part can clean the air? Let's look at the numbers. Styrene is a widely used organic material with a worldwide production of over 20 million tons annually. Roughly 11% of that volume, or 4.4 billion pounds, is used in unsaturated polyester resins. If a company is using a dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) polyester resin with 45% styrene as a material and is applying it to a mold using an external mix high pressure spray gun, it's likely that nearly 10% of the styrene by weight would be lost to the atmosphere. This is approximately 4.5% of the total weight of the resin being used. That's 4.5 pounds of styrene into the air for 100 pounds of polyester resin used. The EPA published Styrene Lost Per Pound of Resin Used for different processes. (EPA-450/2-90-011, October 1990) For every pound of resin used, Spray Lay-up puts .09 - .13 lb of Styrene into the air and Hand Lay-up .05 - .10 lb. But Closed Molding releases only .01 - .03 lb for every pound used.
That's roughly an 80% reduction of emissions. That means making Calyber's 35 foot hull the traditional way would release about 250 lbs of Styrene into the air, but because closed molding also consumes about half the amount of resin, they're 10 times cleaner, probably emitting only about 25 lbs. And this doesn't even account for the gallons of acetone not being used for clean-up.
Once in the water, another obvious difference is that there are no exhaust ports spewing fumes and dirtying the transom. This is because of the new Volvo IPS drives. These drives are entirely submerged with the exhaust ported under the boat which also reduces air pollution. Backing down on your catch now doesn't mean sucking in carbon monoxide.
The significantly improved efficiency of these drives means smaller power plants and 40 to 50% less fuel consumption running about 28 gal/hour at 32 knots verses 50-55 gal/hour with conventional drives
Calyber Boatworks proves that reducing your carbon footprint doesn't mean making sacrifices. Quite the contrary. By combining new technologies and state-of-the-art materials and processing, you can be "Green" and Strong. Isn't that kinda like being able to catch and release, and eat it too?