Innovation & Design: Adding Fiber To Your Boating Diet

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Magellano’s Bio Sandwich and other new applications


The Magellano 50 made a noted debut in October 2011 at the Genoa Boat Show. Aside from its refreshing styling and interesting layout, Azimut’s new long-range cruiser gets high marks for its environmentally friendly inclination, which earned it the Italian classification society RINA’s Green Plus class notation. It features low-emission engines (latest-generation Cummins Common Rail), optional hybrid propulsion, LED lighting, UV coatings and eco-friendly wood, which we have warmed up to by now.

Another interesting ingredient in a long list of innovative features is the use of a “Bio Sandwich,” a composite mix that includes recyclable linen fibers, renewable cork instead of a PVC core and ecological resins. The composite material used for the Magellano 50’s helm console is very much in the now. Car companies, furniture manufacturers and builders are using more natural fibers (including flax, hemp, jute, straw, oats and rice husks) than composite materials, in part because they are readily available, renewable and biodegradable, unlike their manufactured counterparts (be they polymer, metal, carbon or ceramic—including the commonly used fiberglass).

While Azimut has used this more ecological composite mix on the interior only, research is progressing on other applications in boating, including hull construction, and already there is a deck material using 60 percent recycled rice husk, developed by Eco Marine Systems. At the 2010 Barcelona boat show, a marine engineering student showed a canoe that used flax fiber as reinforcement. Further research is necessary, but with good strength, weight and insulation properties, natural fibers used in the proper mix could be just as right for the future, as it was in the past. Romans used flax fibers for their sails.

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