They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but sometimes all is takes is a garage, a chemist, and a really good idea. Such is the case with FiberRubber®, the brainchild of Alokin Alset, an immigrant from East Europe who was granted US citizenship one year to the day after being granted a patent on this new form of flexible fiberglass.
“The secret to FiberRubber® lies in the molecular bonds,” Alset explained. “The molecules are arranged in a 4-1-15 pattern that allows them to change shape when striking the waves. A FiberRubber® hull will actually ripple from stem to stern, as it passes through a wave. This allows it to absorb virtually all of the impact forces.”
As if that wouldn’t be enough to excite boaters, the truly revolutionary aspect to this material is its ability to power the propulsion system. As the Fiber Rubber flexes and ripples, piezoelectric micro-oscillators embedded in the fibers create an electrical current. The current travels through a network of embedded fiber-optics, to a sort of sub-station (that also forms an aft bench seat) that converts the current to 24 volts, and then feeds it to a Li-Ion battery pack.
To prove the material works, Alset built a 25’ long prototype pocket-trawler in the garage of his Edison, New York home. The hull is 100-percent FiberRubber® to the waterline. From there up, the hull, deck, and wheelhouse are vacuum-molded rigid fiberglass. Propulsion comes courtesy of a French-built 100 HP Parc-llub electric engine, mated to a Chinese Yaw On drive unit. In honor of his Serbian mother, he christened the vessel LoofLirpa upon its completion.
In the spring of 2013, Alset applied for his patent and then tested the boat—first in the Finger Lakes, and later in the open Atlantic. The next two years were spent tweaking and modifying LoofLirpa until Alset was completely confident in its ability.
“The beauty in my system is that unlike solar or wind-powered electrical vessels, the FiberRubber® boat isn’t subject to the whims of nature,” Alset claimed. “You don’t lose power when the sun is obscured by clouds, or when there is no breeze. Once you give the boat its initial ‘push’ with the lithium-ion power cell, it’s completely self-sustaining. The faster you go the more the boat flexes, so the more power you generate. The only time an issue arises is when the water is dead flat calm. In this instance you must circle back and strike your own wake at least once every 100 yards, or, as a last alternative, someone can stand up in the bow and jump up and down like an excited monkey-boy trying to snatch bananas out of a tree. This, too, will create enough flexing in the FiberRubber® to power the craft.”
We're looking forward to our promised test run on the first production model FiberRubber® boat in time for our next publishing deadline one year from today, on April 1st, 2016.