A 16-meter eco-catamaran that works with sustainable and renewable energies
Hemp fibers have been linked to shipping for centuries, being a common material in the manufacture of ropes, sails, rigs and even the hulls themselves. Hemp has also spread to other sectors such asautomotive, but the advent of aluminum, glass and carbon fiber made this material obsolete.
Until now. With environmental and economic commitments such as those presented by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ODS), products and technologies are emerging over time, projects of all kinds that rely on biodegradable materials. Thus, hemp reappears in the nautical sector. At least that's what the Marservis shipyard thinks, where an ecological boat is going to be built with hemp.
Behind this project there is not an industry giant, but a small company located in the Croatian village of Katelir, which in 1995 opened a company to provide electronics and motors services and which ended up by specializing in the design and construction of boats. In this line of technological development, Marservis has embarked on the search for production processes for sustainable boats that operate using renewable energies.
The big bet of the shipyard is a passenger boat, more precisely an eco-catamaran 16 meters long by 6 meters wide, accommodating 52 passengers and two crew members, which will be propelled by electric motors using the energy obtained by solar panels that cover the roof and a wind turbine. With an autonomy of 10 hours and a maximum speed of 14 knots, this boat will annually save the emission of 3,5 tons of carbon dioxide, 4 tons of nitrogen oxides and 150 kilos of polluting particles. Zagreb's Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture collaborated in the design.
Thanks to the use of electric motors, the boat will emit practically no noise towards the bottom of the water, which will allow it to go to protected waters, which leads this innovation in the ecotourism sector, while sailing in natural parks and other remote places.
The shipyard, which also works with other materials such as linen and jute, has managed to bring all phases of manufacturing together from an ecological point of view. Growing hemp is already a sustainable option due to its rapid growth in small areas. The production of the material is completely natural, from the sowing process to drying, and the fabric requires almost no additional energy, which means that the energy used to produce the material is reduced.
The construction of the boat will be done by vacuum infusion, which prevents the emission of harmful substances. However, once the proportions are considered, the natural resins will be part of a compound with carbon fibers, a product that is not very ecological, in order to give the boat rigidity and performance. Finally, once the life of the eco-catamaran is over, it can be disposed of in a sustainable manner, thus closing the green circle of the project.
Luciano Beg, owner of the shipyard, is waiting to receive the aid granted in the framework of a public call for tenders by the European Investment Fund, to start the construction of the eco-catamaran. He estimates that the launch will take place in three years. In the meantime, it will continue to adapt its biocomposites so that materials such as hemp are once again present in the nautical industry.