If you've ever watched a speedboat slamming its way across the waves, you may have thought "That can't be good for its hull" … and you'd be right. A new invention from Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), however, could help keep those boats intact.

Typically built from lightweight composite materials such as fiberglass, the hulls of speedboats can indeed become cracked due to repeated impacts against the water. This results in watercraft needing to be repaired frequently, retired prematurely, or even in their sinking while out at sea.

To that end, a UPM team led by Juan Carlos Suárez Bermejo has created a thin viscoelastic layer that's designed to be sandwiched between the layers of a speedboat's composite hull material, when that hull is being built. It's composed of a honeycomb-like arrangement of linked rigid polymer hexagons, each one with a round piece of rubber in the middle. That rubber absorbs and dissipates the energy of impacts, drastically lessening its effect on the surrounding material.

Based on lab tests, the researchers state that hulls incorporating the technology should require repairs for wave-impact-related damage only one third as often as their conventional counterparts.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Ocean Engineering.

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