Biofouling on ship hulls is responsible for an up to 40% higher fuel consumption of vessels. Now a new non-toxic paint has been developed. The secret is a nano structure, caused by amphiphilic molecules
These molecules have a curious relationship with water. One part of the molecule is hydrophilic, so it attracts water molecules. The other part is hydrophobic, so it pushes them away. This amphiphilic combination produces a nano-scale pattern on the surface which makes it marine organisms extremely difficult to stick on. When a vessel starts to move, the water rushes past the body and easily removes the fouling.
“Our aim was to find coatings that work by reducing the adhesion strength of organisms so that they come off in the water without killing them”, says one of the researchers within the project, Professor Jim Callow from the University of Birmingham.
It is estimated that new paints like this one could save ship owners 20 billion Euros a year and prevent nearly half a million tons of greenhouse gasses from being released into the atmosphere
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