Greenboats has just acquired the French family business Depestele as a partner. The move was necessary for a strategic investment: the Bremen-based pioneer for sustainable composites needs liquid funds to purchase a machine system in order to significantly expand and rationalize its production. In addition to the financial resources, the company thus secures access to the coveted raw material flax.
Flachsfeld in Frankreich © Depestele
Der Flachs wird verarbeitet © Depestele
The company Greenboats has made a name for itself with the production of ecologically compatible composite for boat hulls. An important component of this is flax, which is used in the same way as glass fibers in GRP. The investor Depestele comes from the center of flax cultivation, Normandy in northern France.
The new shareholder of Greenboats has been marketing flax since 1850 and is now the most important market player in Europe. Around 750 Norman farmers are contractually bound to Depestele. They cultivate an area of 13,000 hectares in the north-west of France. The French have also been supplying Greenboats with raw materials for its eco-composite for a long time. Now they have become co-owners of the company.
Friedrich Deimann © Kerstin ZillmerFriedrich Deimann from Greenboats
has long appreciated the expertise of this traditional company: “Depestele is currently the only company that can supply untwisted, i.e. not over-twisted yarn.” The German pioneer for natural fiber-reinforced plastics (NFRP instead of GRP) needs this yarn for the flax mats called “Gelege”, which in turn are used to make panels.
For years, the Bremen-based company has not only been building boats, but also a complete production process for the sustainable flax-based composite with bioepoxides. Friedrich Deimann has been developing these composite materials in Bremen for many years, including with the Department of Bionics at the University of Bremen. “It’s complex,” says Jan Paul Schirmer from Greenboats in an interview with float.
Der Rumpf wird aus Flachsgelegen mit Bioepoxidharz im Infusionsverfahren erstellt © Greenboats
Friendly relations exist with Depestele
In addition, there were downright friendly relations with the Depestele family. “They are also impressed by us because we don’t just want to resell their product, but enhance it,” says Jan Paul Schirmer. The best conditions for even closer cooperation. The machine, which will go into operation this year at a new location in Germany, is a so-called panel production line: panels are produced by combining fiber mats with natural resins in several layers and then pressing them.
Plattensorten aus verschiedenen Naturmaterialien © Greenboats
According to Greenboats, the new machine is capable of pressing composite panels in a maximum format of 6 x 2.45 meters. These panels are of interest to bulk buyers such as shipyards. This can be used to create partition walls, cabinets and other objects with straight surfaces on board, as well as many other products. The best example was the racing yacht Malizia by Boris Herrmann, who used some parts made of this material in his boat.
“Greenboats could fit out the interior of five thousand 30-foot yachts per year,” says Schirmer, giving an impression of the capacity. More importantly, the system scales not only the quantities but also the costs. The panels can be produced up to 80 percent more cheaply.