11th Hour Racing Team has launched a partnership with Gen 2 Carbon, and the experts in high-quality carbon recovery systems join the Team as Official Carbon Fiber Recycling Partner. As part of the initiative, up to 10 tons of carbon waste from the sailing community in Brittany, France, will be diverted from landfill and sent to be processed into recycled carbon fiber (rCF).
One of the products produced by Gen 2 Carbon’s circular process is G-TEX recycled carbon mat, which can be used as part of boat building processes. The carbon fiber is recovered through a pyrolysis process, from waste composites in the automotive, marine and aerospace industries. 11th Hour Racing Team’s new IMOCA Mālama applied G-TEX during the boat build project, pairing the material with flax-based PowerRibs between layers to increase strength and to allow resin to flow through.
By incorporating recycled carbon, which can typically have 80-95% less greenhouse gas emissions than virgin carbon fiber, the offshore racing industry can take an important step towards Paris climate goals.
“The carbon footprint of an IMOCA boat build has increased by nearly two thirds in just ten years and it is vitally important that we work to reduce this impact. One of these ways is to close the loop on our carbon fiber waste,” commented Damian Foxall, Sustainability Program Manager at 11th Hour Racing Team. "By collaborating with Gen 2 Carbon, we are able to recycle fiber that can be turned into new parts and components to be used in boat building.
“As a Team we are actively speaking to marine organizations to support and encourage the use of recycled carbon fiber and alternative materials in boat builds and incentivize this within the sailing rules, as was recently seen in the new rules announced by the IMOCA Class. Only through changes like this do we, as the marine industry, have a chance of complying with the Paris Agreement to reduce by 50% our collective footprint by 2030,” Foxall concluded.
Global sports sector third biggest consumer of carbon fiber
In 2021 over 30,000 tons of carbon fiber, from across all industries, was sent to landfill and this figure is expected to reach over 100,000 tons by 2031. With the global sports and leisure sector now the third biggest consumer of carbon fiber (behind aerospace and industrial), finding circular solutions to this ubiquitous material is an important step towards a circular economy.
At Gen 2 Carbon, segregated carbon fiber waste is sorted and cut to size and then the material is processed through a pyrolysis oven to burn off resins and other contamination to leave, after an oxidation process, clean carbon fibers. These reclaimed fibers are laid in a carding machine to produce a nonwoven matting at a range of sizes and weights. In the newly upgraded process, energy generated during the removal of the resins is used to provide power for the operation of the furnace.
“Our mission at Gen 2 Carbon is to turn carbon fiber waste into a high value, sustainable raw material,” commented Managing Director, Mark Hitchmough. “Working collaboratively with recognized advocates for change like 11th Hour Racing Team, across a range of sectors, supports our aim to inform industry of the benefits of using recycled material.
“If the demand for recycled materials increases, the combination of commercial and environmental pressures will help eliminate any reason to send carbon waste to landfill,” Hitchmough concluded.
Transition to a Circular Economy
Aiming to accelerate the global transition into a circular economy, Gen 2 Carbon offers one of the most advanced processing technologies that reduce the environmental impact of recycled carbon fiber through the entire product lifecycle, from production to end-of-life.
Mark Hitchmough, met this summer with teams at an IMOCA Workshop, supported by 11th Hour Racing Team, to share insights on how to create value from carbon fiber waste.
Mark Towill, CEO of 11th Hour Racing Team, commented, “Part of our mission as a team is to share best practices around sustainable boat building within the marine industry. This partnership does exactly that - bringing industry experts from outside of the sailing world into the heart of the global offshore sailing community in Brittany, France, allowing other teams, boat builders and manufacturers to hear and learn first hand about alternative and far more sustainable materials for construction. We may be rivals on the water, but off the water we all need to work together to make substantive change for the health of our planet.”
More information about 11th Hour Racing Team’s sustainability program can be found here.