Thursday, February 23, 2012
A new paint inspired by shark skin and seed husks discourages barnacles and mussels from attaching to the hulls of boats and ships, reducing drag resistance and fuel consumption. Although conventional ship paint has long been able to achieve this, this biomimetic version avoids the use of copper and tributylin, which find their way into the food chain. Biomimetic paint for recreational vessels has been available from VOSS-Chemie GmbH since 2010, and a sprayable product under development will vastly reduce shipping and maintenance costs as well as the carbon footprint and toxic impact of marine shipping.
VOSS and other companies in the region around Bremen, where major ship and aircraft construction companies and their suppliers predominate, frequently rely on the researchers at the Bionik-Innovations-Centrum (B-I-C) at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences. In keeping with the applied research agenda characteristic of Germany's universities of applied sciences (UAS), the B-I-C sets its research agenda in direct collaboration with regional companies, which allows its projects to achieve extremely rapid rates of transfer from the bench to the market. B-I-C's close working relationships with regional companies also inform curricula at Bremen UAS, where undergraduate and graduate programs in biomimetics benefit from professors' ongoing collaboration with industry and prepare students to transition smoothly from the classroom to the region's most innovative companies. These faculty-company relationships build on a special feature of German universities of applied sciences, where professors are only hired after years of high performance in a relevant role in industry, government, or the arts.
Image © VOSSCHEMIE GmbH