Week 3- Plastiki

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Andy Dovell, designer of the Plastiki boat, invites us to take a look at the actual boat in the Australian Maritime Museum. Close up I could see and feel how strong the plastic substance is- quite important for a boat that was designed to travel across the Pacific Ocean. It was marvelous to actually visit and experience Plastiki as you could see the detail and architecture of the marine craft and wonder in awe when you remember this was made from recycled plastic materials. Seeing the obvious plastic bottles at the sides of the boat as well as the not-so-obvious parts, truly this boat is a testament to the future of plastic use and reuse. There is a small irony how this plastic boat sailed through the Pacific- plastics are a great threat to marine life yet there at the museum was a beacon of hope in the future of recyclable plastics.

A more detailed talk in class revealed the interesting prospect of the SRPET material- with SR standing for Self-Reinforced. Taking inspiration from parking lot barriers, Dovell has used a technique which involved 2 versions of the material- one that melts in 200 degrees Celsius and another in 300 degrees Celsius. The result is half of the SRPET becomes resin while the others are fibres. This material then becomes a very strong plastic, capable of withstanding a lot of stress- perfect for creating objects such as a sturdy sail.

What is quite exciting is the future of the new SRPET material- Dovell is already talking of using the material for surfboard fins, skateboards and small boats like see kayak. He mentions how hopefully this would help stop the use of poor quality, weak and unsustainable plastics (like the current plastics used in kayaks). With the amount of plastic floating around the ocean that is threatening ecosystems all over our Blue Planet, this new sustainable plastic would greatly help the environmental cause as another steps towards sustainable technology.

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