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Synthetic Sebum Makes Slippery Sailboats

sonnejw0 (1114901) writes | more than 4 years ago

Science 0

sonnejw0 writes "Sea-faring vessels are a major contributor of greenhouse gas production due to a deficit in international laws and inherent inefficiencies at sea, such as barnacle build-up on hulls. Many marine animals avoid the build-up of drag-inducing barnacles through secreting oily residues from their pores or through the nano-molecular arrangement of their skin. Sailors regularly defoul their hulls, remove the barnacles, at dry-dock, which requires them to reduce the amount of time they have at sea. Some synthetic chemicals in paints have been used to prevent barnacle build-up but have been found to be toxic to marine animals and thus outlawed by several nations. Now, engineers are trying to replicate the skin of marine animals to produce a slippery hull to which marine bacteria cannot attach, saving fuel costs and improving speeds:

Designing ships to exude slime from their hulls could cut their fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent. The slime would form a gelatinous skin that continually sloughs off, taking with it the barnacles and other marine life forms that cause energy-sapping drag as they accumulate on the ships' underside.

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