Two young researchers work on an alternative recyclable material for making surfboards
The TXFOAM project, initiated by GAIA (the Association of Information Technologies’ Industries in the Basque Country), ESTIA (École Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées) and the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), has managed to identify a new material which is less toxic and is a recyclable alternative to the foam currently used in the manufacture of surfboards. The project, within the remit of the ELKANO mobility grants promoted by GAIA and the UPV-EHU – is being undertaken by two young Gipuzkoans: Borja Ponte, BSc in Chemical Sciences and a specialist in macromolecules and Julen Rementería, who has a degree in Company Administration and Management and a Masters degree in Sliding Sports Engineering and Marketing. The surfing industry produces more than 750,000 surfboards per year, of which only a small percentage contain sustainable or biodegradable materials. This is why the TXFOAM project (http://www.txfoamproject.com) aims to tackle this environmental problem, above all by research in order to reduce the toxicity of the surfboards, maintaining and even enhancing their technical specifications. The TX Foam project is being developed at the business incubator belonging to ESTIA in Hendaya, in collaboration with other agents and related entrepreneurs related to nautical sports activities, in the very heart of Aquitaine where 70% of boards of the European surfboard industry are made. Phases in the project The first phase of the project has just finalized – identifying a possible alternative material to be investigated and tested over the coming months. The new material is recyclable and less toxic than the current foam used, thus tackling the two biggest environmental problems facing the surfing industry. The results of the initial trials with this identified material have positively confirmed its feasibility. The next phase of the project, optimisation and prototyping, will be undertaken over the coming six months, aimed at enhancing the new material to adapt it to the requirements demanded by the surfboard manufacturing industry. Recognised technological centres with the necessary equipment to this end will be co-operating with this second phase of the project. Once the material is ready, the first prototypes of the table will be made and trials with them carried out by surfers of all levels, both amateur and professionals. Then, with the latest improvements incorporated, it is forecast that TX Foam, the commercial name for the new material, will be launched on the market for September 2008.