I was reading the interesting thread on the history
boats and one of the posters mentioned that some boat builders are experimenting with making carbon hulls. These carbon hull
experiments are being geared for racing
sail boats apparently because of the higher material costs.
This got my mind thinking about the use of carbon on boats per se. Whether for use in masts or now hulls I understand the thought process in using this material. Light weight and strong in comparison to other materials. But there is a big BUT.
My concern is with my knowledge of the various types of carbon structure not all structures are born equal. To give an example of my concern I will use to illustrate the property differences between a diamond and a carbon pencil lead. Both are carbon based but differ tremendously in strength and fragility.
Now talking about carbon structures used in boat materials I have an unease about the brittleness of the material being used. This concern is heightened with the large number of carbon mast
dismastings particularly on racing
hulls. Even this years Gun Boat dismasting
involved a carbon mast
Now I am not saying that the use of carbon materials should be avoided but what I am raising is the concern that a great deal of more research
needs to be done regarding the kind of carbon material and its physical structure before my disquiet is relieved.
Having done research
in the field of nano carbons with a particular emphasis on nanotubes and graphene I am acutely aware of a huge variances in the underlying structural strengths of various carbon structures.
Apart from strength variations one of my biggest concerns is inherent brittleness. Kind of like thinking of a carbon mast like being one large lead pencil. I know this is an extreme characterization but I use it to illustrate a point.
Now I am not dismissing carbon as a strong lightweight material. After all if you can combine high strength with lightweight material that IS NOT possessing a high rate of brittleness you will have a wonderful boat building material. I just think a great deal of more material research and development needs to be undertaken before I for one will take the risk with what is being used today.
Here is something from a researcher on carbon materials.
"Graphite is a form of carbon. The carbon fibers are not homogeneous and contain a percentage of amorphous carbon and another percentage of graphite, depending of the process used. If the process used a precursor PAN (polyacrylnitril), and if the temperature is higher than 2500°C, the graphite increased.
The graphite fibers present a higher Young's modulus, but a lower strain at rupture, they are more brittle."
If you have a carbon mast do you have concerns? If you don't would you buy one or a sailboat with one? Are Yu at peace with the level of research into the sailing use of carbon materials on boats?
I could be the only materials nerd on here but given the high level of intelligent contributors on other subjects I some how don't think so.