Christoph Pöhler wishes to make an SUP made of 100% organic materials, © Christoph Pöhler

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP for short, is booming and has now taken over rivers, lakes and seas. SUP has grown into a sporting trend among the young and old and there are now even plans to make it an Olympic sport. Standing alone on a paddleboard surrounded by water speaks of freedom, independence and relaxation. It really is a natural sport. On the other hand, though, the way these boards are manufactured has so far been less environmentally friendly. Conventional surfboards usually consist of oil-based plastics, with inflatable stand-up paddleboards (iSUPs) being made of PVC. Solid hardboards have a core made of polystyrene or polyurethane; polyester or epoxy resins are used for the coating, which is reinforced with fibreglass and carbon fibre fabrics.

Christoph Pöhler and his team wish to change this material mix and develop a fully environmentally friendly SUP hardboard made of recycled and natural materials. Their creation is called “ecoSUP”. Pöhler is a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI in Brunswick and himself a passionate stand-up paddleboarder. He and his team have already performed initial experiments with promising results. Balsa wood from retired wind turbine rotor blades is used for the core, creating a new reuse cycle for the balsa wood material and reducing carbon emissions over the long term. The plans see the ecoSUP’s shell being made of 100% natural biopolymer, including flax fibres where possible. Flax fibres have outstanding mechanical characteristics and are grown in Europe. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing funds for the project. The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW is overseeing the research. TU Braunschweig is the project partner.

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