Posted: February 7, 2013 | By: David Szondy [Gizmag]
Engineers at Duke University have developed a polymer that keeps ships’ bottoms clean by twitching like living skin. The paint-like material combats hull fouling by preventing marine organisms from collecting on hulls by physically moving on the microscopic level and thus dislodging bacteria from the surface without toxic chemicals.
Marine life loves to colonize almost any solid surface if it gets half a chance and once a collection of seaweed, barnacles, mollusks, bivalves and worms sets up house they can turn even the sleekest of racing hulls into something about as hydrodynamic as a burst mattress. This can not only slow down the ship, but also reduce fuel efficiency as the vessel burns more fuel to drag along its unwelcome guests.