Structural design repels water

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Structural design of water fern leaf surfaces may be mimicked to create superhydrophobic coatings for ships and other technological surfaces. Such coatings could significantly reduce friction and drag forces on ships, thus decreasing fuel consumption.

Key Differentiators

(from company website)”…the suitability of the biomimetic prototype for drag reduction was tested: in a large-scale-study the drag of a ship model was reduced by up to 10%.”

Biomimicry Story

The leaves of Salvinia ferns. when submerged in water, 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.

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References

Journal article
The Salvinia Paradox: Superhydrophobic Surfaces with Hydrophilic Pins for Air Retention Under WaterAdvanced Materials, 22: 2325-2328April 28, 2010
Barthlott W, Schimmel T, Wiersch S, Koch K, Brede M, Barczewski M, Walheim S, Weis A, Kaltenmaier A, Leder A, Bohn HF

Web page
The Horizon 2020 AIRCOAT project: A Biomimetic Hull Coating to revolutionise the ship coating sector?Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CMLApril 26, 2018

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