Zyvex vessel demonstrator to be nano-enhanced

Zyvex will use its Arovex carbon nanotube prepreg with Tenax carbon fiber in the construction of Zyvex' 540SE advanced technology demonstrator boat.

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Zyvex Performance Materials (ZPM, Columbus, Ohio), a producer of products for nanomaterials applications, announced on Aug. 4 an agreement with Toho Tenax America (Rockwood, Tenn.) to use Tenax carbon fiber in the construction of the 54-ft 540SE advanced technology demonstrator boat. Boat construction began at Strategic Composites Inc. (Pacific, Wash.) in August.

For this project, ZPM’s trademarked carbon nanotube technology prepreg, Arovex, will be made using Tenax carbon fiber. Zyvex’s patented technology takes advantage of the superior physical and chemical properties of carbon nanotubes by enabling even dispersion of carbon nanotubes in composites mixtures, such as prepreg. Use of Arovex, therefore, will keep boat weight under 8,000 lb/3,628 kg, fully equipped — approximately 75 percent less than fiberglass boats of the same size, and 33 percent less than comparable boats molded with carbon composites. As a result, the 540SE powetrain will require 75 percent less horsepower, considerably reducing emissions and extending its range. The boat is expected to offer unprecedented fuel economy at low to medium cruising speeds, says the company.

“Toho Tenax America is proud to be partnering with Zyvex Performance Materials on this exciting initiative. Their technology enhances the performance of carbon fiber composites, and this project will vividly demonstrate that,” says Rob Klawonn, president of Toho Tenax America.

"This new nano-enhanced prepreg material will allow us to create the boats of the future,” comments Strategic Composites Inc.’s president Ron Jones, Jr., who offers the prediction that “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.”

The boat will be powered by a pair of small diesel engines, typically found on boats under 30 ft/9.1m in length, but able to propel the ultralight craft to top speeds of near 44 knots with a range of more than 870 nautical miles. While 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, also is planned and should be available in early 2010 through Synergy Yachts. The announced launch date for the prototype is November 2009.