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Liquefied Wood Surfboards

Award category
Shaping a circular industrial ecosystem and supporting life-cycle thinking
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS RISING STARS: concepts or ideas submitted by young talents (aged 30 or less)
Project title
Liquefied Wood Surfboards
Full concept/idea title

Our project aims to integrate sustainable materials - liquefied wood - and processes - circular economy - in the core of the surfing industry, promoting more responsible consumer trends in respect to the relationship with nature, by means of an inclusive sport, with worldwide visibility : surfing.

What is the geographical scope of your concept/idea?
Does your concept/idea address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly urban
Does your concept/idea refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your concept/idea benefited from EU programmes and/or funds?
Has your concept/idea won an EU prize?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
Word of mouth (colleagues, friends …)
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your concept/ idea

Our project aims to integrate sustainable materials - liquefied wood - and processes - circular economy - in the core of the surfing industry, promoting more responsible consumer trends in respect to the relationship with nature, by means of an inclusive sport, with worldwide visibility : surfing.


Please indicate the main themes of your concept/idea with 5 key words
Liquified Wood
Circular Economy
Sustainable Resources
Carbon Neutrality
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of environmental sustainability (including circularity) and how these would be met.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context

Surfboards are made from polyurethane foam which is obtained from raw materials supplied by the petrolific industry, which in its extraction, releases considerable amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere. Aggravating this fact, the majority of surfboards are destined to end up in landfills, where they will not biodegrade and contribute to the contamination of groundwater and soil of the surrounding environment. Every year, more than 750,000 surfboards are made with a total carbon footprint of around 220,000 tons of CO2, according to SurferToday.

In an attempt to reduce the negative impact that lies underneath these numbers, we analyse the production of a bio-polyol made from wood  - liquefied wood -, later used in the production of surfboards.

Cultivations aimed at biomass production, such as woody short rotation coppices (SRCs), have a high potential for the production of energy and chemicals. The fact that it is locally available and able to replace fossil fuels, makes biomass one of the most promising alternative sources of sustainable energy. These cultivations are carbon neutral along their life-cycle as the growth of trees contributes directly to the absorption of carbon in the atmosphere.

This woody solid biomass from the SRCs is transformed into bio-oil through a chemical process called liquefaction, which can then be converted cheaply into a wide variety of valuable chemical products such as polyurethane (PU) foams and also resins, both used in the production of surfboards. 

By embracing this innovative production method, we create the possibility to generate a parallel economic cycle allowing SRCs to be self-sustainable.  Furthermore,  the undesired extracts from the bio-oil can be used as biodiesel with high calorific value as a greener and more competitive alternative to fossil fuels, allowing this industry to become significantly less dependent on the oil industry.


Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these would be met.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context

Beyond the decarbonization of the surfing industry using liquefied wood surfboards, our project aims to make a tangible approximation to the Green Deal through a product for a newsworthy sector with a strong relation to the natural environment.

Surfing is, by definition, a sport intrinsically connected to nature, inducing, among its practitioners, awareness and proactivity to environmental causes, regardless of the negative impact that the materials used by this industry cause on the biosphere.

If on the one hand, the transition to liquefied wood surfboards allows the deepening of the engagement between the surfing industry and the environment, on the other hand, the aesthetic side of surfing, used extensively by global brands like Apple or Samsung, contributes to the approximation between the general mass public and the liquefied wood as well sustainable design.  Nevertheless, the predictable extensive use of liquified wood foams for construction and thermal barrier coatings, their use in the surfing industry, guarantees the strong visibility of the virtues of this new material.

Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these would be met.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context

The ocean is the biggest natural element of this planet and surfing one of the main and most inclusive ways of reconciliation with the sea. With 41 percent of European population living in coastal regions, where 53 percent of tourism activities take place, surfing becomes an inclusive tool for better living together. The integration of a sustainable dimension regarding the liquefied wood surfboard, removing petrochemical components from the industry will surely open up space for a sustainable and healthier relationship with the natural environment, possibilitating the continuous growth of this market sector, without ignoring its side effects.



Please explain how these three dimensions would be combined in your concept/idea.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

In today's society, surfing aesthetics is used extensively by global brands, shaping consumer trends and approximating the general mass public to the ocean, the largest ecosystem in the world.  Our project comes to inovate the way that, ultil now, surfboards are made, by shifting the main focus to sustainability, introducing circularity in the process of surfboard mass manufacturing.

Please highlight the innovative character of the concept/idea as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the concept/idea.

It is still ironic that an industry based on clean and healthy oceans can create such damaging and wasteful products, having a tremendous impact on our biosphere. Surfing is increasing its popularity and more and more we see beaches crowded with tourists yearning to plunge into the water. Unfortunately, in today’s world, things are not made to last long. Companies only bear profit in mind and customers want to spend as little as possible.  In the surfing industry, this results in surfboards with a short lifespan. 

One very interesting fact about liquefied wood surfboards is that they can be reintroduced at the beginning of the production cycle, originating new surfboards once again. For the first time, we can stop the "use-break-discard" way of thinking, and create recyclable surfboards, allowing for a circular economy. 

Another innovative aspect, besides replacing a good percentage of petrochemical products for a renewable and carbon-neutral raw material, is that the liquefied wood is not only used for the foam itself, but also for resins, used to coat the surfboards, and biodiesel to power the industry in a greener way.

In conclusion, the goal is to adopt a circular economy confronting the waste produced by the surfing industry, but also to make progress towards a less pollutant, renewable raw material: wood. We firmly believe that the valorization of the biomass produced by SRCs, with the ultimate goal of surfboard manufacturing, is critical to shift the mentality that this is just an environmental conceptual methodology for those who believe in greener solutions, ignoring its financial cost. With the introduction of the liquefaction process, this method of production can become feasible and cost-effective, claiming its place on the global market.

Please detail the general plans that you have for the further development, promotion and/or implementation of your concept/idea.

Achieving a full size surfboard prototype that is ready to go into the water to be tested is our first milestone. The next step is to take our product to an international surf festival to introduce new surfboard designs. Ultimately, we will test our product in CNC machines to scale up for the global surfing industry.

Surf's up.

Imagine that your idea/concept is awarded in the New European Bauhaus Prizes 2022. What kind of initiatives would you take throughout the following year (June 2022- June 2023)

First off, we will take advantage of the communication package to produce online content such as shorts videos explaining our concept and product. We believe this step is crucial to reach a broader audience in the digital era we live in. Furthermore, one of the main goal is to expand our team, to provide a good workflow for the continuity of our research. At the moment, we have already developed a small scale prototype and by June 2023 we expect to have our first liquefied wood surfboard ready to go into the water to perform surf tests.  



By ticking this box, you declare that you are not in in one or more of the exclusion situations foreseen under Article 136 of the Financial Regulation.
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that you assume sole liability in the event of a claim relating to the activities carried out in the framework of the contest, that the proposed concept/idea has not been proposed for the New European Bauhaus Prizes 2022 in any other category or strand and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.
By submitting your application, you guarantee that you are the author or have the rights to proceed with the application and to authorise the use of the project, concept, idea, and that you have obtained any necessary consents, licenses or assignments from third parties and included copyright notices when necessary.
By submitting your application, you understand that all the applications that meet the eligibility requirements will be shared for the purposes of the selection processes, and notably published on the secured platform and for the purposes of the promotion of these on the New European Bauhaus website and/or other European Commission communication channels. In this sense, the applications would be widely available. Applicants should ensure that they present their ideas, concepts, projects, in such a way that they could be shared without giving rise to intellectual property related concerns. If your submission is selected as one of the finalists, it will additionally be shared for the purpose of the public vote that will take place. The European Union is granted a licence to use and share your application with the general public and the official external experts for the purposes of the selection process, including the voting. The European Union has the right to use the images and visual materials and the description provided in the application for communication purposes related to the contest and beyond. Rights granted comprise the right to store, reproduce, display, publish and communicate or distribute copies in electronic or digital format, including, but not only, through the internet. Unless you have disclosed your name, the European Commission has no obligation to share your name when using or disseminating your contribution to the public. The European Union cannot be held responsible in case any submitted idea, project, concept is found to infringe third parties rights. The European Union shall be neither responsible for the use that third parties may do of the applications or related content.


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