Switzerland is a water-rich country, with the six biggest cities surrounding large lakes. However, marine transport is almost limited to leisure rides. Two Swiss innovative companies have united their know-how and visions to enable a healable smart foil technology, which has been tested on the Swiss Solar Boat, a solar-powered competition-winning boat.The hydrofoil was manufactured by another local Swiss company, MB Composite.
ZESST by Almatech offers the market’s most advanced smart foil technology. By using electronic sensors wholly embedded in the foil carbon fibre composite structure to sense the level of water and thus reach the ideal height of immersion of the foil. This is crucial for a smooth and efficient flight over sea level. The ZESST technology aims to bring a solution to typical drawbacks (light conditions, reverberation, and spray disruption) by being embedded within the structure while being robust and accurate up to 3mm. ZESST uses carbon fibre composites, commonly used in the maritime and aerospace industry, as they are extremely strong and lightweight materials. A composite has a matrix (a polymer resin) and a reinforcement (carbon fibre, which provides the strength), and it is within this composite material that the sensors are embedded.
Although these materials are strong, they have significant drawbacks when it comes to impacts. Impact damage events are very difficult to repair and imply high costs, thus usually resulting in the disposal of the carbon fibre part. CompPair Technologies Ltd. brings the solution to this environmental drawback by building composites that are designed to be repaired. Drastically reducing the repair time from 4+ hours to 1-5 minutes brings a sustainable differentiator to the marine sector. The innovation is a smart resin enabling to build composite structures with an embedded healing capacity. CompPair has demonstrated the interest of using healable composites for foils and other structural marine parts, and this project is just one of the many commercial use potential. CompPair can provide its products for large series production, like any other traditional prepregs.
The video shows the behind-the-scenes of the project, including interviews of the two project leads Amaël Cohades and Luc Blecha, respectively CEO and co-founder of CompPair and Head of ZESST by Almatech. Finally, see the first glimpses of the first flight of the Swiss Solar Boat with the healable smart hydrofoil.