Green Surfboards: Investigation of Product Biodegradability at End of Life

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Chemical Engineering | Materials Science and Engineering


As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, companies find ways to make products and manufacturing processes greener. This work examines an innovative surfboard product that uses bio-based fiber-reinforced polymers to address product disposal issues and to lower the toxicity associated with some of its components and manufacturing processes. The goal of this work is to characterize the biodegradability of the “green” surfboards at end of life, focusing on the fiber-reinforced composite laminate covering the surfboard and the core of the board. Different laminate types, with various combinations of resins (polyester, epoxy and a bio-resin) and reinforcing fibers (fiberglass, organic hemp and organic cotton), were tested. Polyurethane core was compared with the green alternative balsa wood core. Degree and rate of biodegradability of materials were evaluated by measuring weight change and material hardness over 56 days under controlled composting conditions. The results suggest that the resin component in the composite laminate is the key factor that controls the rate of biodegradation of the material. In addition, different resins exhibit different degradation mechanisms, depending on the chemical and biological nature of the materials.