Zyvex Marine, the latest division of Zyvex Technologies, is using all its knowledge of carbon nanotubes in its design of the advanced boats in the world. Vessels made using composites manufactured with carbon nanotubes are proving to be faster, more fuel efficient and stronger then all previous designs. The company specializes in manned and unmanned craft for use in a diverse array of operating conditions and for wide range of duties. With an eye on military responses to the international pirate problem that blights shipping and recreational seafaring, the company hopes to bring to market several USV craft designed using the most advanced materials science available.
Headquartered near Seattle, Zyvex Marine is located close to ports along the Puget Sound and West Coast. With tested performance up to Sea State 6, Zyvex vessels are built to withstand the toughest operating conditions around the world.
Zyvex Marine formally became a division of Zyvex Technologies in November 2011. The company has made a name for itself as an innovator in the marine technology and boat design world. In early 2009, they produced the world’s first commercialized carbon nanotube enhanced (CNTe) carbon fiber material, Arovex, which enabled the design of a prototype vessel called the 540SE. Setting new standards for fuel efficiency and performance, the lightweight 540SE hull offered a 75% reduction in fuel consumption costs, translating to increased range and lower operating costs.
In 2010, Zyvex Marine manufactured its first prototype craft, the Piranha, a 54 ft unmanned boat is an unmanned surface vessel (USV) designed to enable a broad range of operations at sea with reduced operational costs and risks to sailors. Pushing the design through to manufacture in under one year the company once again created a boat that set new standards in range, speed, sea keeping and payload. The Piranha proved to be a generational leap beyond boats built out of traditional materials like fiberglass or aluminum. With carbon nanotubes the strongest material known to man, 200x stronger than steel but one sixth of the weight, the incorporation of this material innovation into the build of the boat practically guaranteed success.
The brilliance of the Piranha prototype finally translated into the production of the first nan-composite vessel in 2011, a lightweight 54′ boat. And since then Zyvex Marine has been busy developing new maritime platforms based on the Piranha’s success and customer demand as well as fulfilling customer orders through 2012. If the company’s ambition isn’t clear enough then consider this from Russel Belden the company Vice President,
Countering piracy and shadowing gun runners, though, is just the start. Like mobile sound surveillance-system stations, unmanned patrol vessels with passive acoustic and optical sensors could form pickets to constantly surveil sea lanes, or whole areas such as the Gulf of Aden or the Persian Gulf. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is thinking just this, having recently launched a project for an antisubmarine-warfare continuous-trail unmanned vehicle, a drone ship that would stick to sonar contacts like paint to a railing.9 Vessels like these could also loiter silently for days or even weeks, then sprint at 45 knots to intercept potential threats. Heavily armed versions could participate in surface or antisubmarine action, delivering Hellfire missiles or Mark 54 torpedoes from where they would be least expected.10 With more than enough horsepower to tow a sled, they could perform the minesweeping tasks we have long expected of drone boats. With enough electrical power for heavy loads, they could also carry signals intelligence or spoofing payloads. What admiral would not want an expendable ship that could simulate a whole battle group?
Proceedings Magazine – December 2011 Vol. 137/12/1,306 – Russell Belden, James Hasik, and James Soon
Profiled by Forbes magazine, Zyvex is not currently publicly traded, but, like so many of the companies in the nanotech market, it is definitely one to watch