New boat uses Zyvex carbon nanotube-enhanced prepreg

The 54-ft technology demonstrator will weigh 75 percent less than a glass fiber boat of the same size.

Zyvex Performance Materials (ZPM, Columbus, Ohio, USA) on May 11 unveiled a new boat to be built by
Strategic Composites (Pacific, Wash., USA) and made entirely with ZPM’s next-generation carbon nanotube (CNT) enhanced prepreg, Arovex. The new boat, designated 540SE (Super Efficient), is intended as a technology demonstrator to show what future boats are capable of when built with new nano-enhanced materials like Arovex.

The 54-ft/16.4m boat will weigh less than 8,000 lb/3,619 kg fully equipped, approximately 75 percent less than fiberglass boats of the same size, and 33 percent less than conventional carbon fiber boats. The weight reduction allows the new boat to require 75 percent less horsepower, considerably reducing emissions and extending range.

Boat construction began at Strategic Composites in April. “We are very proud to be unveiling this new boat. By re-imagining and designing boats to take full advantage of our materials, a new generation of boats can be built that are remarkably lighter, consume far less fuel, and cut carbon emissions.” says Lance Criscuolo, president of Zyvex Performance Materials. “By greatly reducing the weight of the boat, performance is increased and emissions are cut by more than two-thirds. This will create a new breed of boats that have expanded capabilities, range, and are environmentally responsible.”

“This new nano-enhanced material will allow us to create the boats of the future,” commented Strategic Composites President Ron Jones Jr. “By being able to greatly decrease the weight of the structure, the engine and fuel requirements are reduced as well. This boat will be able to do things that other boats can’t. It could be carried and airdropped by cargo aircraft, for rescue, deployment or intercept missions,” Jones said. “The use of these new nano-enhanced materials is what will allow a new generation of ultra efficient green boats to be built. Cities, security forces, and governments that are looking for a flexible platform with super efficiency have an answer now.”

The boat will be powered by a pair of small diesel engines, typically found on boats less than 40 ft/12.2m in length. These smaller engines will still be able to propel the hull to top speeds of more than 50 mph. Offshore capable, and with a range of more than 1,000 miles/1,609 km, the boat will also feature a “glass cockpit” similar to ones found in modern aircraft. Larger engines are optional for higher speed applications.

Designed with defense and security missions in mind, the technology demonstrator will be a conventional civilian/recreational boat. A recreational version using the same hull and materials is also planned and should be available in early 2010 through Synergy Yachts. The announced launch date for the prototype is November 2009.