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Plastiki, a catamaran made of recycled bottles

27/04/10

Plastiki, a catamaran made of recycled bottles

After many months of design work, this 20-metre catamaran, sponsored by David de Rotschild, finally took to the sea on 20 March to cross the Atlantic, from San Francisco (California) to Sydney (Australia), about 16,000 miles in a hundred days or so.

Nothing exceptional about that, you may say, except that Plastiki is mostly made of plastic bottles, some 20,000 recycled two-litre PET bottles (polyethylene terephthalate). The bottles are placed in the compartments of the hull, which is itself made of a mixture of reinforced PET and a new high-tech material developed by Comfil, a Danish company.

The bottles were provided by local recycling centres, with only translucent bottles being used. After being cleaned and tested, all the bottles selected were each filled with 12 grams of dry ice to give them a pressure of about 4 bars and the necessary floatability.

The cabin, which can house a crew of 6, is made of the same reinforced PET as the structure of the hull and can be dismantled and reused on land after the crossing.

The boat’s on-board electricity is supplied by solar panels, turbines and exercise bikes on which the crew members can work out when they want.

Apart from boasting this technical prowess, Plastiki aims to promote the use of recyclable materials through this unprecedented application and to make the general public aware of the problem of waste at sea, including plastic waste!

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