Former America’s Cup yacht will be recycled

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Boeing and Oracle Team USA, winner of the 34th America’s Cup, are collaborating to recycle 7,000 pounds of carbon fiber of USA-71, a yacht built for the America’s Cup campaign in 2003.

The hull and mast of the racing yacht will be processed and repurposed, a first-of-its-kind effort for what could be the largest carbon structure ever recycled.

Boeing and Oracle Team USA, working with research partners, plan to use a technique developed to recycle composite materials from Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which is 50 percent composite by weight and 20 percent more fuel-efficient than similarly sized aircraft.

“The introduction of composites in yacht construction was a major step in our sport,” Oracle Team USA logistics manager Chris Sitzenstock said in a statement. “The materials and processes have continued to evolve, allowing us to build the high-tech, high-speed AC72 catamarans raced in this year’s America’s Cup. Now we have the ability to work with Boeing to take the next steps in composite recycling and to help reduce our environmental footprint. We will also look to recycle carbon components remaining from the build of our yachts.”

The partners will work with the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and MIT-RCF, a South Carolina company specializing in repurposing carbon fiber components. USA-71’s hull will be cut into 4-foot sections and the mast will be chopped into manageable pieces before being processed; about 75 percent of the recycled composites will come from the hull and the remaining 25 percent from the mast.

Boeing and Oracle Team USA expect to gather data about the mechanical properties, costs and time flows to recycle sailing-grade composite materials in comparison to aerospace-grade and automobile-grade composites. Although the companies have not determined the post-recycling use of the yacht’s carbon fiber, potential end uses include consumer and industrial products.

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