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Old 10-10-2015, 09:23   #1
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NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Hi, Folks !

... actually I am upset (since longer) about that we boaters and sailors aren't "greent". - Not at all.

Looking at the boat building process (beside classical wooden boat building) we find lots of chemicals and toxic materials, e.g. using for epoxy, composite (carbon cant be recycled), paintings (antifouling)... not to forget all the skinky diesel engines which don't have a real future (looking at the limited resources of fossil energies many wars and killings are going these days to get or keep control about oil and gas fields).

Last not but least we use plastic sails (dacron, kevlar, 3D laminates), synthetic sheets and high tech textiles for the sailing clothes... All not healthy for our environment.

Even without a scientifical proof we have to admit: in total the balance of sailing is "damaging" nature and following generations.

Some little attempts are going, e.g. in Sweden had been forbidden yachts to enter into marinas/harbours without a holding tank for black water spring 2015 (since 1st April the law regulates that all boats with a toilet must have a holding tank and must be pumped ashore or in tanks or outside 12nm if used).
To make the dimension clear alone for the tiny sized Sweden which has only 9.5 million inhabitants:
  • 1,000 boat clubs with 250,000 members
  • estimateed 1,000 club harbours and 500 guest harbours
  • number of pleasure boats 881,000 boats all together.
  • cruising boats: 120,000 motorboats and 62,000 sailing boats.
From that statistics (source) we can imagine what is going in whole Europe with ~500 million members.

I still can't imagine, that we sailors are really green. Instead... it could be ! We'd just need to open our eyes and learn and make our decisions and choises to force the boat building industries to follow the customer's expectations.

As I am addicted to multihulls and trimarans there modern boat building is a combination of epoxy and composite (e.g. Foam West System strip planked, epoxy-plywood marine etc. ...). Foam makes the multihulls unsinkable and let the boats work safely as a "life raft" after capsizing.



Modern synthetic foams (PVC) are used, e.g. Divinycell (Type F and Type H).


Beside my little bit researches about electric propulsion (e.g. OceanVolt, Torquedo) and solar energy I look around for more healthy boat materials I call them "NatureTech".

Basically I believe in the nature product "wood". It is a renewable raw material... with a very intelligent architecture of inner structure, leight weighted, elastic and easy to shape with some simple tools. Racing Trimarans had been built leight weighted using wood-composite very long before the hype around 100% carbon multihulls started in the 90th.

Repairings mostly can be done easily... and the building process can even be learnt by amateurs at low costs as seen in this beautifully video.

(Rec.: You can get some good eBooks by specialists like Russel Brown about self building boats using wood.)

To make clear that "wood" is still a modern and competitive boat building material, pls read my post about the 10 meter "Trimaran Barracuda" having built in Denmark in wood (with little bit Kevlar) being competitive against a 100% carbon racing Trimaran (40 ft.) designed by multihull specialist Nigel Irens.


Today I fell over an interesting product... never have heard before: Wood Foam. The picture shows some rigid foam insulation boards which are 100% wood-based. No chemicals !!


Accidently I fell over this product via the company Signtific 3D in New Zealand. The company can shape 3D models, prototypes and moulds / cores for rudders etc. ...


And for these models/cores the Kiwis are using "Wood foam". Citiation:
Quote:
This process uses the 3D computer file working off mesh objects or have your scale model or hand carved design laser scanned to be produced into any size. From a solid block of material such as acrylic, foam wood etc your models are quickly transformed into reality, with excellent surface finish and accuracy. The prototype can then painted to the specified surface finish and colours.
It seems this raw material Foam Wood was developed in Germany by researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute as I read in a press release end of April 2015. Citiaton:

Quote:
Recyclable and environmentally friendly

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI in Braunschweig have adopted a very promising approach to the problem by developing a method for creating foam from wood particles. »Our wood foam can be used in exactly the same way as conventional plastic foams, but is an entirely natural product made from sustainable raw materials,« explains Professor Volker Thole, department head for process technology and system technology for wood-based materials at Fraunhofer WKI. Another of its advantages is that, unlike conventional foam products, wood foam can be easily recycled after use. For instance, if used as packaging material, it can be simply discarded in the paper recycling bin. The novel material has such great potential that it won a 2015 GreenTec Award in the »Construction and Living« category.

The scientists produce the foam by first grinding wood very finely until the tiny wood particles become a viscous mass. They then add gas to this suspension to expand it into a frothy foam and allow it to harden. The hardening process is aided by natural substances contained in the wood itself. This new manufacturing technique is based on specific chemical processes. »It’s similar to the way dough rises and sets when bread is baked in an oven,« Thole explains. The resulting wood foam is a lightweight base material that can be formed into rigid boards or flexible sheets. Just like other wood-based products, they can be easily sawed or cut to the desired dimensions.

Does anybody use "Wood foam" in boat building experimentaly ? - Any experiences ?


As stated further by Frauhofer institute (Citiation):

Quote:
The Braunschweig-based scientists are currently experimenting with different types of wood to determine which tree species provide the best raw material for this application. Furthermore, they are working to identify suitable processes for mass-producing wood foams on an industrial scale. The wood-based foam products are expected to be ready for commercialization within a few years.

Take the courage pls to look for such alternatives. The chemical and synthetic solutions which are being used in boat building arent a healthy future for our planet.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:39   #2
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Wonder how much water it absorbs?
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:08   #3
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

It is still very early in the development process. The pictures make it appear very porous. It will be interesting to watch.
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:17   #4
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Wonder how much water it absorbs?
This relevant aspect for boat building will come into account, as "wood foam" is planned to be used for "isolation of buildings". We know from daily life that there is "steam" (humidity) along inside the walls of buildings. So "Foam wood" must handle condensed water successfully.

For now there is used toxic PVC foam to isloate buildings (and boats)....


Beside the researches of Fraunhofer Inistute there are going some analysis in USA, too.... as shortly reported in August 2015:

Quote:
The AgCenter at Louisiana State University (LSU) has recently received a $250,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to research the potential of using wood residues to create a biomass insulation spray.
Read fully news of 08/09/2015 here: "Going Green: Wood Foam Insulation Spray"
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:27   #5
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

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Originally Posted by Skip JayR View Post
... actually I am upset (since longer) about that we boaters and sailors aren't "[green]".

...Even without a scientifical proof we have to admit: in total the balance of sailing is "damaging" nature and following generations.[/I]
Personally, I like the recent serious proposal to genetically engineer human-kind so that we all become little tiny people. Then we could build little tiny boats to sail in.

Our biggest problem then might be the riffles that can capsize the tiny boats when we sail on puddles, and the menace of predatory frogs and fish when sardines and toads are comparatively like dinosaurs to us.
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:47   #6
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

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Personally, I like the recent serious proposal to genetically engineer human-kind so that we all become little tiny people. Then we could build little tiny boats to sail in.

Our biggest problem then might be the riffles that can capsize the tiny boats when we sail on puddles, and the menace of predatory frogs and fish when sardines and toads are comparatively like dinosaurs to us.
This would be an excellent interims solution, that humans start to become humble and devote against mother nature... not thinking that they are something "worthfully more than others"...

...as said in the genesis of Christian bible (1st Mose 1, 28) arrogantly and being misunderstood over more than two thousand years: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." - Source of translation.

Oppositly Gulliver in Lilliput, hm ? - Humans should be shrinked for at least 200 years.... otherwise there is no long term learning process guaranteed, right ? :-)


Human race then would have time to learn having respect against mother nature and planet earth, as we know it from big and smart creatures living peacefully around us.
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:55   #7
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Skip JayR

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne 1623


While I am in general agreement with the idea that sailors aren't particularly 'green', I don't think it follows automatically that that is an awful thing. It seems obvious that resources should be used so their maximum benefits are realized (though actual practice generally gravitates to maximum initial profit).

Only broadly speaking is Nature itself actually 'green', the planet and universe are full of examples of apparent waste, unfairness, misallocation of resources; name a man-made boondoggle and chances are almost certain that Nature has beaten us to the punch. The key word in the previous sentence is 'apparent'. Like many complex issues, the question comes down to the struggle between objectivity and subjectivity.

This is not to say that we should disregard our actions in an orgy of self- gratification, quite the opposite. To be truly human seems to require that we transcend nature and deny the very natural tendencies of gluttony and self-gratification. Indeed, it seems to me that we owe our 'success' as a race to the generally positive achievement of that goal over the last 15,000 years.

It also seems that most are now realizing that this 'success' is truly a double-edged sword, and we are being dragged, kicking and screaming as usual, into what was batted about in a recent thread here as kind of a global tragedy of the commons.

Between the use of oil and gas for plastics or as a source of power, plastics is by far the better use in all respects except (maybe) gross profit margin. To explore why this is so is a book-length endeavor worthy of research by everybody; for our purposes, the economic and environmental pluses of plastics production and usage outweigh the negatives, as compared to using the resource for fuel. Certainly there are huge toxicity problems, but they must be resolved by (that evil thing) regulation, both in production and consumption. Using epoxy to save fuel in a 787, or to make a longer lasting, faster sail is oceans apart from triple-plastic-bagging individual items at Walmart....


So to tie this back into your thread about wood foam. Pardon me if you're invested in the company, but this seems like another solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Properly used, wood is a wonderful boat (and almost anything else) building material. Proper use includes using the right wood in the right application, taking into account, in no particular order, things like stress orientations, weight and durability.

While the idea of using wood waste is sound, to reduce wood scraps to powder, then fluff it up with gas, press it into some kind of(probably) inferior sort of pseudo plank, and then have to coat it with the same type of resin that one would use on a cold-molded boat seems less than efficient; after all, it is the actual structure of the wood itself, in plank form, that makes it such an ideal building material. The example that always sticks in my head is this. Take a straw from a real straw broom and hold it horizontally by one end and observe what happens. Now take a strand of fiberglass roving of the same diameter and do the same. Then compare the weight.

I'm not saying that logic is always the best criteria for solving a problem, but it does seem that if stiffness and lightness in a structure is ones' desired result, starting with materials that are already stiff and light might result in the stiffer and lighter structure, or at least allow one to achieve that result more efficiently.

Don't get me wrong, as the population grows, and until it stops growing and begins to decline to sustainable levels, every conservation effort that is made, successful or not, is a step in the right direction.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:44   #8
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Personally I think the use of fiberglass/resin is a pretty "green" concept. A fiber glass boat lasts 30-50 years. OTOH, the use of plastic for bags, containers etc for a one time use is not.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:56   #9
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Personally I think the use of fiberglass/resin is a pretty "green" concept. A fiber glass boat lasts 30-50 years. OTOH, the use of plastic for bags, containers etc for a one time use is not.
I'm right on board with ya here cheechman...
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Old 11-10-2015, 10:28   #10
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

How can a boater get greener than sailing? I would have the question the inferrence of no chemicals in the wood foam, there must be a bonding agent, and as someone has asked about its absorption of water along with the potential of dry rot?
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Old 11-10-2015, 10:47   #11
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip JayR View Post
This relevant aspect for boat building will come into account, as "wood foam" is planned to be used for "isolation of buildings". We know from daily life that there is "steam" (humidity) along inside the walls of buildings. So "Foam wood" must handle condensed water successfully.

For now there is used toxic PVC foam to isloate buildings (and boats)....


Beside the researches of Fraunhofer Inistute there are going some analysis in USA, too.... as shortly reported in August 2015:

Read fully news of 08/09/2015 here: "Going Green: Wood Foam Insulation Spray"

There is a plastic barrier required between the insulation and the interior wall. With sprayed foam it is normally plastic.

As was previously mentioned there must be some kind of bonding agent. It is not likely to be glucose based.
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Old 11-10-2015, 11:27   #12
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

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Originally Posted by jimbunyard View Post
Pardon me if you're invested in the company...
Tks for your deatilled thoughts. It takes time to think about. So for now I answer: No, I dont ahve any shares in one of the companies...

It's just a free flow of thoughts to get a better understanding, at least to approach some alternatives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Personally I think the use of fiberglass/resin is a pretty "green" concept. A fiber glass boat lasts 30-50 years. OTOH, the use of plastic for bags, containers etc for a one time use is not.
About Epoxy... its not funny to work with it. I worked as student in the 80th in a boat warft producing series of yachts by "hand laying" method. The workers in these factories can be happy nowadays to have available the "resin vaccum infusion method" keeping themselfs more clean. But here we know that this method creates a huge amount of plastic garbage. For the "eco balance" in total probably not something very positively.

But still.. its highly toxic using modern production methods.

Same here as mentioned about the aspects of "foam alternatives"... we have alternatives to epoxy, already.
Yet I know in details about, but the project "Plastiki" which was lead by David de Rothschild five years ago (2009/2010) using an organically glue material made from cashew nuts and sugar cane... I'm still in my pre-research about as I have found these infos shortly.


Pls let uss keep here the focus on the topic "wood foam"...
otherwise it ends in a messie chaos tlaking about too many aspects.
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Old 11-10-2015, 11:42   #13
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip JayR View Post
This would be an excellent interims solution, that humans start to become humble and devote against mother nature... not thinking that they are something "worthfully more than others"...

...as said in the genesis of Christian bible (1st Mose 1, 28) arrogantly and being misunderstood over more than two thousand years: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." - Source of translation.
sorry, that biblical quote states that we are something special and the world is ours to use as we will. not too much 'green' or humility in that quote.

Quote:

Oppositly Gulliver in Lilliput, hm ? - Humans should be shrinked for at least 200 years.... otherwise there is no long term learning process guaranteed, right ? :-)


Human race then would have time to learn having respect against mother nature and planet earth, as we know it from big and smart creatures living peacefully around us.
one point of reality: no creatures on this planet live together in peace. even the most placid and tranquil pond is a killing field full of things killing and dying every second. that's the nature of reality. the world isn't one big hippie commune that humans interrupt with our violence.

on a brighter note, i agree that humans do harm the planet too much. on the other hand, i'd have to say that sailors do so less than most. if you want to get away from synthetic products, you pretty much have to remove yourself from society. i mean, your computer (the one you made this thread from) isn't made of wood, is it?

on the other side, using wood isn't the best answer either. the worlds forests are being depleted. especially in south america. no trees no air.

the thing is, any species that is overpopulated for their environment will have a negative effect on that environment. we are woefully overpopulated and, as a whole, there is no one willing to slow down on reproduction levels.

one of the big things you hear anti-abortionists say to try to shock people into being against abortion is that such and such number of thousands of babies were aborted this year and, all i can think in response is: " and do we really need that many more people?"

by 2030, experts are saying our numbers will hit the critical mass point where the earth will no longer be able to sustain us. they are actually considering trying to change the world wide human diet to insects because there won't be enough resources for the world to produce all the normal food we need.

looked at as a whole, i think the problem is a bit deeper than fiberglass and resin.

simply put, humans are the most environmentally harmful products that humans produce.
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Old 11-10-2015, 11:44   #14
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
How can a boater get greener than sailing? I would have the question the inferrence of no chemicals in the wood foam, there must be a bonding agent, and as someone has asked about its absorption of water along with the potential of dry rot?
I had this thought first, too... but reading the publications it says something differently:

Quote:
... The scientists produce the foam by first grinding wood very finely until the tiny wood particles become a viscous mass. They then add gas to this suspension to expand it into a frothy foam and allow it to harden. The hardening process is aided by natural substances contained in the wood itself....
So it seems no chemicals required, inspite it is a kind of "internal chemical process of transformation within the wood itself". - Yet I have not found details about the gas being used. For regularly direct gas injection to build structural PVC foam it is Nitrogen or CO2.
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Old 11-10-2015, 12:13   #15
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Re: NATURETECH: Foam Wood... the alternative to toxic chemicals.

The process of making this foam wood sounds a lot like making Rice Krispies cereal, and we all know what happens to that when you pour milk on it.
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