That complexity potentially poses a challenge for us in terms of wetsuit recycling but it’s not a question of just simplifying the suit – why would we change a wetsuit that we know performs so well?
Thus far, we’ve had some surprising results in the lab. Under the microscope, we can see the difference between our original tester suits and our new suit very clearly. Three years of frigid waters and regular surfing causes the neoprene’s cells to start to buckle (see first image). This change in our neoprene’s cell structure, however, is having next to no effect on the flexibility of our suit, which we really didn’t expect. We will be continuing our testing to verify this but this finding is promising and means we may be able to recycle our neoprene rubber without needing expensive and energy-consuming re-processing techniques.
Now we’re working on finding out whether that same cell structure change is affecting the Nieuwland’s thermal properties.