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

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.


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

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