Champion of green

The theme of Campion Boats’ recent dealer meeting was “Going Green,” and the company had two unique examples of that message on hand. They were test versions of the Chase 550 and Chase 600 boat models, and the hulls, liners and decks of both vessels were crafted using bio-resin.

The first-of-their-kind watercraft represent a collaboration with Ashland chemical company, which produces the Envirez resin used in the boats. Ashland approached Campion’s general manager, Brock Elliott, with the idea mid-June. By July, Campion had a boat on the water, and shortly afterward the company added a second model.
“We wanted to do two boats, to make sure we didn’t just get lucky with one,” Elliott said.

The resin used in the boats is composed of about 12 percent bio-materials, including soybean oil and corn ethanol. The idea behind the resin is that the less traditional petroleum-based oils a product uses, the smaller its carbon footprint and the less it adds to the nation’s petrochemical dependency. According to Ashland, a batch of the product, which is 38,000 lbs., saves 10 barrels of crude oil and eliminates 34,000 lbs. of CO2.
Mike Wallenhorst, global marine marketing manager for Ashland, says his company’s goal is to create products that don’t penalize companies for being environmentally conscious.

“There used to be a trade-off for going green, but with this product we’ve been able to match the high-standards of the traditional offerings,” Wallenhorst said.

There is still one downside of bio-resin: cost. At the moment, it is more expensive than traditional resins. Wallenhorst notes, however, that its price is less volatile than petroleum and will drop as it is made on a larger scale. And he believes the marine industry is a good fit for green materials.
“Since the marine industry relies on natural resources to be a venue for their products, they are inherently interested in finding ways to have less impact on nature,” Wallenhorst said.
That has been Elliott’s experience lately. He has seen a lot of people in the industry thinking green right now.

“Suppliers are asking what they can do,” Elliott said.

According to Elliott, one of Campion’s suppliers has a cover that eliminates the need to shrink-wrap a boat by self-shrinking as you drive, and another claims to have a green alternative to acetone, which Campion will test in the near future.

For its part, Elliott says Campion is proud of the efficiency of its hulls, which he says require less power and fewer engines.
“For us, less is more,” Elliott said.
So far, real world testing of the bio-resin boats has gone well. Elliott says that although the company has tried to crack the hulls by beating them up under rough conditions (see photo) the boats have stood up to all challenges. And, while the marine formulation of Envirez will remain in the long-term testing phase for a while, Wallenhorst said the product looks good: “All indications are positive, and we recommend it for marine use.”

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