Navigation Links
Bionic coating could help ships to economize on fuel
Date:5/4/2010

This release is available in German.

The hairs on the surface of water ferns could allow ships to have a 10 per cent decrease in fuel consumption. The plant has the rare ability to put on a gauzy skirt of air under water. Researchers at the University of Bonn, Rostock and Karlsruhe now show in the journal Advanced Materials (doi: 10.1002/adma.200904411) how the fern does this. Their results can possibly be used for the construction of new kinds of hulls with reduced friction.

The water fern salvinia molesta is exremely hydrophobic. If it is submerged and subsequently pulled out the liquid immediately drips off it. After that it is completely dry again. Or to be more precise: it was never really wet. For the fern surrounds itself by a flimsy skirt of air. This layer prevents the plant from coming into contact with liquid. And that even with a dive lasting weeks.

Materials researchers call this behaviour 'superhydrophobic'. This property is of interest for many applications such as rapidly drying swimsuits or simply for fuel-efficient ships. Meanwhile, it is possible to construct superhydrophobic surfaces modelled on nature. However, these 'replicas' have a disadvantage: the layer that forms on them is too unstable. In moving water it disappears after several hours at the latest.

The researchers from Bonn, Rostock und Karlsruhe have now deciphered the trick the water fern uses to pin down its airy skirt. It has been known for some years now that on the surface of its leaves there are tiny whisk-like hairs. These are hydrophobic. They keep water in the surroundings at a distance.

Water is 'stapled in place'

But this is only one side of the coin: 'We were able to show that the outermost tips of these whisks are hydrophilic, i.e. they love water,' Professor Wilhelm Barthlott from the University of Bonn explains. 'They plunge into the surrounding liquid and basically staple the water to the plant at regular intervals. The air layer situated beneath it can therefore not escape so easily.'

Professor Barthlott is head of the Nees Institute of Biodiversity of Plants in Bonn. There the experiments began which are continued today in conjunction with the Chair of Fluid Dynamics at the University of Rostock and the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Karlsruhe. 'After the solving of the self-cleansing of the lotus leaf twenty years ago, the discovery of the salvinia effect is one of the most important new discoveries in bionics,' Professor Thomas Schimmel from the University of Karlsruhe says.

Fuel saved world wide: one per cent

And it is one with huge technical potential to boot. Up to now with container ships more than half of the propulsion energy is lost through friction of the water at the hull. With an air layer this loss could be reduced by ten per cent according to the researchers' estimate. Since ships are huge fuel guzzlers, the total effect would be enormous. 'Probably one per cent of the fuel consumption worldwide could be saved this way, is Professor Barthlott's prognosis. 'Surfaces modelled on the water fern could revolutionise shipbuilding,' Professor Dr. Alfred Leder from the University of Rostock concurs.

Lotus and the water fern salvinia are only two of maybe twenty million species populating our planet. They all have their secrets, and Bonn, Rostock and Karlsruhe are working on unlocking these.


'/>"/>

Contact: Prof. Wilhelm Barthlott
lotus@uni-bonn.de
49-228-731-919
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New ORNL carbon composite holds promise for bionics
2. Bionic Vision Australia puts bionic eye in sight
3. Seeing a bionic eye on medicines horizon
4. NJIT researcher awarded patent for hydrophobic, corrosion-resistant coating
5. Smart coating opens door to safer hip, knee and dental implants
6. A coating for life
7. Therapeutic nanoparticles give new meaning to sugar-coating medicine
8. Troublesome green algae serve as coating substrate in record-setting battery
9. Can a new implant coating technique create a new six million dollar man?
10. Nontoxic hull coating resists barnacles, may save ship owners millions
11. Sugarcoating fruit fly development
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/20/2016)... 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading ... for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced ... it has secured the final acceptance by all ... Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will ... be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016 ... Police deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the safety ... France during the major tournament Teleste, ... communications systems and services, announced today that its video security ... to back up public safety across the country. ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... --  The Weather Company , an IBM Business (NYSE: ... in which consumers will be able to interact with IBM ... voice or text and receive relevant information about the product ... have long sought an advertising solution that can create a ... and valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... Hill, N.C. (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 ... ... U.S. commercial operations for Amgen, will join the faculty of the University ... serve as adjunct professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid biopsy ... PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) ... test has already been incorporated into numerous clinical ... Over 230 clinical trials are investigating ... PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of ... their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been ... Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed ... to serve as their official health care provider. ... will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and ... volunteers, athletes and families. "We are ... and to bring Houston Methodist quality services and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: