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"Aquaculture, not the Internet, represents the most promising investment opportunity of the 21st Century."

- Peter Drucker, Management Expert & Economist


Nanowrinkled antifouling coating could benefit aquaculture and ship sector

A team of chemistry researchers from the University of Sydney Nano Institute have developed nanowrinkled coatings with antifouling properties that do not have toxic components.

This innovation will help to protect ships from biofouling, which consists on the development of damaging biological material, and which could also the Australian shipping industry to save around AUD 320 they spend annually due to this problem. Biofouling can prosper on any wet surface with long exposure to water, for example aquaculture nets, marine sensors and cameras, and ship hulls.

"We are keen to understand how these surfaces work and push the boundaries of their application, especially for energy efficiency. Slippery coatings are expected to be drag reducing, which means that objects, such as ships, could move through water with much less energy required", researcher Associate Professor Chiara Neto, said. The project was tested by adding the innovative materials to shark netting in Sydney's Watson Bay.

Nanomaterials proved to be efficient at resisting biofouling in a marine environment.

The scientists who participated in the project worked with biofouling expert Professor Truis Smith-Palmer of St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

To develop the new coating, the scientific team based their work on the the carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plant nanowrinkled structure. This plant catches a layer of water on the tiny structures around the rim of its opening, which creates a slippery layer causing insects to aquaplane on the surface, before they slip into the pitcher where they are digested.

To stop the biofouling process, Neto group developed a new slippery surface which prevents the adhesion of bacteria and inhibits the development of a biofilm from which larger marine fouling organisms can grow. These test surfaces were attached to swimming nets at Watsons Bay baths, in Sydney Harbour, during a period of seven weeks.

The antifouling coatings are mouldable and transparent, making their application ideal for underwater cameras and sensors.

Billedresultat for Nepenthes

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