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Transportation Science Technology

Synthetic Sebum Makes Slippery Sailboats 128

sonnejw0 writes "Sea-faring vessels are a major contributor of greenhouse gas production due to a deficit in international laws and inherent inefficiencies at sea, such as barnacle build-up on hulls. Many marine animals avoid the build-up of drag-inducing barnacles through secreting oily residues from their pores or through the nano-molecular arrangement of their skin. Sailors regularly defoul their hulls, removing the barnacles at dry-dock, which requires them to reduce the amount of time they have at sea. Some synthetic chemicals in paints have been used to prevent barnacle build-up but have been found to be toxic to marine animals and thus outlawed by several nations. Now, engineers are trying to replicate the skin of marine animals to produce a slippery hull to which marine bacteria cannot attach, saving fuel costs and improving speeds."
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Synthetic Sebum Makes Slippery Sailboats

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  • It's a start (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:18AM (#29580055) Journal

    A surface that inhibits barnacles is only a start, for there are other things one can do to make a ship more eco-friendly

    One if obviously a more fuel efficient engine

    The other is to improve the design of the propeller to make it more efficient while lessen the drag

    Then there is the need for a much lighter material for the construction of the ships

    Last but not least, new designs of ships are also needed.

  • Re:It's a start (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:28AM (#29580193)

    Go Nuke. They did it once http://www.atomicengines.com/ships.html [atomicengines.com], but made it more of a 'show' boat than a work horse.

    * The Savannah was designed as a showboat. Her purpose was to demonstrate American technology as part of the "Atoms for Peace" program. Pretty lines and luxurious staterooms were more important than cargo capacity or loading ease.
    * She made politically motivated port calls, not economically motivated ones.
    * She was a one of a kind ship, required to support a specialized infrastructure by herself.
    * There were some difficulties with union negotiations. She spent almost a year tied to the pier because of the deck officers did not want the engineers to make more money than they did.

    With the air craft carriers no one seems to have a NIMBY problem. You could move quite a bit of cargo with a few lbs of uranium.

    So it'll require hiring some more staff (Like an actual engineer and maybe some armed guards). The US Navy has managed to not have any nuclear powered vessel captured by pirates.

    Heck I wouldn't have a huge problem if the US Government wanted to own and operate a super-super cargo ship if it ran on Nuclear energy. The amount of oil those ships burn is measured in thousands of gallons per mile.

  • Re:Next Up.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:33AM (#29580279)

    As fun a thought as it is, I occasionally have the opportunity of working with wild bottlenose dolphins - a species that sheds the outer layer of its skin extremely often, and yet we will still see in-shore animals disappear for a few months, most likely going into deeper waters, only to return later with barnacles attached to the tip of their dorsals.

    Now either the barnacles are very, very good at attaching themselves to anything - or there's some freaky dolphin/barnacle action going on in deep waters ;)

  • Fire Hose Liner? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:40AM (#29580379) Homepage Journal
    Maybe we can line fire hoses [wikipedia.org] with this amazingly slippery material?
  • Re:Next Up.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pz ( 113803 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:44AM (#29580443) Journal

    Genetically engineered whales with a built in cargo hold. You just have to train them well, and take advantage of their natural migration patterns..

    Ever watch Farscape? The primary vessel in that sci-fi TV series is a space-faring biomechanoid leviathan, one of a class of spaceships that serve mostly as cargo transport. Yep, that's right, just as you suggest, they are genetically engineered whales!

  • Go Full Sail (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tekfactory ( 937086 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:50AM (#29580557) Homepage

    We did it once upon a time.

    Apparently Supertankers and Cargo ships have cut their speeds down to 10 knots to save fuel, some of the greatest Cargo ships of the Age of Sail managed 13 knots no dinosaur juice needed.

    And everything one of the other posters cited about better materials and new designs still applies.

    Flettner Rotors are more efficient than conventional sails, they failed because Diesel was just too cheap.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotor_ship [wikipedia.org]

    Enercon a Wind Turbine company built a Rotor Assisted ship to ship its Wind Turbines and cut fuel cost 30%
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enercon [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/08/flettner-rotors-cut-fuel-use.php [treehugger.com]

  • How about this? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mencomenco ( 551866 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:32PM (#29584431)

    Has anyone tried adding the well-known Microban additives to marine paints?

    TFA states that barnacle infestation begins with filming of bacteria on the hull, followed by algea eating the bacteria, then barnacles feeding on the algea.

    Some Microban additives puncture bacteria and hence kill them. They are used in kitchen and medical equipment and institutional wall paints. Why not attack the root of the food chain rather than the top rung?

  • Not suitable for all (Score:2, Interesting)

    by puslik ( 38224 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:17AM (#29591341)
    Not and option for sailing racing boats - International Sailing Federation [sailing.org] Racing Rules of Sailing [sailing.org] prohibit this kind of solution: "53 SKIN FRICTION A boat shall not eject or release a substance, such as a polymer, or have specially textured surfaces that could improve the character of the flow of water inside the boundary layer."

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern