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14th May 2018, Paris

Interview with Arnaud Bouquet, Sales Manager, Sports and Leisure, Porcher Industries

Porcher Sport, the Sports and Leisure brand of Porcher Industries and an innovator of lighter, safer and more durable reinforcements for sporting equipment, showcased its GreenLite range of fabrics at this year’s JEC World, which took place in Paris, in March.

Previously recognised with the renowned JEC Composites Innovation Award, GreenLite fabrics use low density cellulose fibres to produce a range of reinforcements that are biodegradable, highly compatible with bio-resins and suitable for large volume manufacturing of bio-based composite sporting goods such as ski’s, snowboards, rackets, and bike frames.  

Arnaud Bouquet, Sales Manager for Sports and Leisure at Porcher Industries. © Inside Composites

Inside Composites spoke to Arnaud Bouquet, Sales Manager for Sports and Leisure at Porcher Industries, who is responsible for developing sales of high performance textiles and composites designed for sport products technologies in Europe.

What makes GreenLite so interesting for the sports segment?

Arnaud Bouquet: Sport has been our first target market for GreenLite, and there has been a great interest from surfboard manufacturers in particular, because the surfing community, as well as other outdoor sports enthusiasts, are very serious about environmental sustainability and are continuously looking for alternatives that the industry can offer, such as biodegradable and recyclable solutions.

GreenLite is a 100% bio-based cellulose fabric, which is fully biodegradable and recyclable. The difference it offers in comparison to other biocomposites currently on the market is that the fibre is continuous, which makes it an outstanding reinforcement with no compromise on the mechanical properties of the final composite product. It has a much higher modulus than flax and hemp, and it is very reproducible.

So, has there been a great demand for this product?

AB: Yes, just this morning I spoke to one potential customer looking to use GreenLite fabrics for racket application. There is a very strong demand from surfboard manufacturers, and the material also offers a very good solution for vibration dampening management, which makes it a great alternative to carbon and glass fibre based composites. Bike frames or ski’s made of carbon are known to be very stiff and vibrate a lot, but when you replace the carbon fibre fabric with cellulose, you bring the user comfort to another level – whether you play tennis, badminton, surf, or cycle.

We are hoping that GreenLite’s credentials will soon be globally recognised since a top surfboard produced with our GreenLite fabrics has been recently nominated for an ECOBOARD Award by Sustainable Surf.

Porcher Industries at JEC World, in Paris, in March. © Inside Composites

How cost effective is it to produce with GreenLite?

AB: GreenLite is a very competitive product, offering a profitable alternative to surfboard manufacturers, who are currently using materials such as glass fibre fabric. That affordability is in addition to the environmental sustainability benefits that it offers combined with a retention of high performance characteristics that you would expect from a modern board today.

Is this development reflective of a growing relevance of biocomposites?

AB: There is definitely a growing demand for biocomposites. Here, at JEC, it is evident by the amount of coverage they receive. This morning’s JEC conference was dedicated to biocomposites and natural fibre solutions. There is also an entire village here, at JEC, dedicated to biocomposites.

And the demand is seen not only in sports, but also in other industry segments. Due to its sustainable benefits and vibration dampening properties, GreenLite reinforcement could offer a great solution to the wind energy industry. In this instance, we focus greatly on the sports applications, because that is where the most demand for green solutions can be seen, but, of course, the range of applications is much wider – a lot of manufacturers and producers are facing legal requirements to make products more sustainable. Final users are also becoming increasingly more aware of the sustainability factor, which helps drive the demand.

How sustainable is the manufacturing process?

AB: We are sustainable in the way cellulose is extracted, and the product is also very compatible with bio-based epoxy resins. With reinforced thermoplastic composites, the recycling of the material is infinite, which is what makes it so appealing. It is 100% bio-based, and when combined with the matrix – whether thermoplastic or a bio-based epoxy – then you have brought the composite solutions to a new level in terms of sustainability.

Do you have any other new developments in this area?

AB: We are monitoring various developments in natural fibres. Also the fact that Porcher Industries has been one of the first companies to be involved in the development of thermoplastic composites, shows our strong commitment to recyclable solutions.

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