A consortium of ten European partners, in coordination with the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML), is working together on the AIRCOAT (Air Induced friction Reduction COATing) project to develop a biomimetic hull coating that reduces the frictional resistance of ships. This coating works similarly to Salvinia leaves by creating a thin air layer that acts as a physical barrier between the water and the outside of the ship. The coating helps to reduce fuel oil consumption and gas emissions, as less energy will be required to move the ship forward, making transport more sustainable. The air barrier created by AIRCOAT will also help reduce the attachment of bacteria and algae that cause fouling.
When submerged underwater, the leaves of Salvinia ferns are able to surround themselves with a layer of air to prevent water from touching the plant’s surface. This is accomplished with the use of tiny hydrophobic hairs covering the leaf surfaces. The tips of these hairs are hydrophilic, serving to ‘staple’ the water to the plant at various intervals, assuring that the layer of air created by the hydrophobic surfaces is maintained.Edit Summary