Since 2007, shipping in the world has stood at a crossroads - after the ban of tributyltin hydride material, no worthy alternative was found. This extremely toxic coating destroyed any living organism that tried to attach itself to the ship's hull. But along with the parasitic shells and algae, the innocent inhabitants of the seas also died, so tributyltin was banned.
To assess the scale of the problems associated with the fouling of ships' hulls with "biomaterial", just one number is enough. In Australia, they spend $ 320 million a year to compensate for the costs due to this problem, so it is not surprising that it was at the University of Sydney that they came up with a new protective coating. The idea, as usual, was spied on living nature - predatory plants like a flycatcher.
Scientists from Sydney have created a substance that has "nano-hillocks" so small that sticky parts of plants or molluscs simply slide over them, unable to catch on. The surface of the rim of the flycatcher's trapping chamber is arranged in approximately the same way - if an insect sits there, it will not itself understand how it will slip inside. In tests carried out in the laboratory and in Sydney Harbor, the coating has successfully resisted any attempts by marine organisms to gain a foothold on it.
The technology is experimental and so far full of shortcomings - for example, scientists are afraid to make the coating too slippery, as this will change the friction of the ship itself against the water, which will unpredictably affect its driving performance. Plus, it is unreliable, and already seven weeks after the start of the experiment, it began to deteriorate and lose its properties. And this is too short a period for sea transportation - if you drive the ship into the dock for processing every two months, it is cheaper to sail with a hull overgrown with shells.