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R-CARBON: eco-friendly carbon surfboards?

Photo ©2022 Jenn Elle

How to make eco-friendly carbon boards?

How to make eco-friendly carbon boards? We took up this challenge by drawing on the waste of the European aeronautics leader AIRBUS. We have signed an agreement to recover carbon fabrics destined for landfill and upcycle them into R-CARBON surfboards!

AIRBUS Nantes produces approximately 12.000 tonnes of waste per year. 75% of this waste is recycled, thanks to a waste sorting policy in place on the site.

Among this waste, we find those related to the manufacture of composite-based parts made of carbon fibers with resin reinforcement. In the absence of a recycling channel for this type of material, AIRBUS must bury this waste.

This is why AIRBUS is working with a network of research institutes, schools (to set up a process capable of separating the fiber from the resin and recycling it), but also with SMEs capable of using this waste in the manufacture of other products: bicycles, prostheses and more recently surfboards!

It is in this context that NOTOX has just signed with AIRBUS the very first agreement to buy back defective carbon fabrics, destined for landfill!

What are these defective carbon fabrics?

These are powdered carbon fabrics, used for making preforms by hot calendering. So, several scenarios:

  • drops too short for industry, but long enough to do surfboards
  • fabrics with defects incompatible with their intended use in aero parts
  • but also fabrics that have lost their ability to "preform" and can no longer be used

These industrial wastes that we use are intended to be buried. We therefore give them a second life.

We often hear: "the waste of some can be resources for others", well for us it becomes a reality. 

A complex manufacturing process, but a top result!

Development of the manufacturing process (dry forming and cutting, vacuum impregnation, use of a 56% bio-sourced resin made in France by our partner SICOMIN) will have been long (about 6 months), but the result is there! 

To demonstrate the performance and robustness of these new generation surfboards, we decided to send the first prototypes to surf extreme waves! Here Clément Roseyro during a dantesque session at Avalanche near Guéthary on the Basque Coast.

©2022 Maxime Mergalet

Today, R-CARBON construction is available on the entire range of surfboards (shortboards, hybrids, evo, longboards and guns). But also, on request, on SUPs, rescue boards, and even foil boards (surfing, wing, SUP).

En conclusion

Before proposing this R-CARBON construction, we had the opportunity to use a directional carbon felt (made from small dry fabric waste from the automotive industry). We did a comparative LCA (life cycle analysis) and it was enlightening: the LCA showed us that the impact of the direct use of wastes (upcycling) was from afar more efficient that the use of reinforcements based on recycled carbon. Because indeed, the transformation of heterogeneous carbon waste, in the form of reinforcement, has an impact (mechanization, combing, assembly, etc.) and requires transport phases between industrial units.

So here, our approach is based on common sense: waste will be more "useful" to fulfill a function than to be buried (especially as it comes to replace new materials themselves tainted with environmental impacts).

Go to the catalog and, thanks to the 3d simulation, discover this famous construction R-CARBON on all ranges of boards.

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