New York, June 25 (IANS) Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a novel type of “omniphobic” coating that can repel water, oil and alcohol, thus helping the US Navy reduce fuel as well as energy costs.
The omniphobic coating, developed by Anish Tuteja, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, is clear, durable and can be applied to numerous surfaces.
The findings showed that ship vessels coated with the chemical would guzzle less fuel because it does not have to fight as much water resistance while maintaining speed than the one without the coating.
“A significant percentage of a ship’s fuel consumption — up to 80 per cent at lower speeds and 40-50 per cent at higher speeds — goes towards maintaining its speed and overcoming friction drag,” said Ki-Han Kim, a programme officer in the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Sea Warfare and Weapons Department.
Friction drag is resistance created by the movement of a hull through water — on ships, submarines and unmanned underwater vessels.
“If we could find a way to drastically reduce friction drag, vessels would consume less fuel or battery power, and enjoy a greater range of operations,” Kim added.
To engineer their innovative coating, Tuteja and his team studied vast computer databases of known chemical substances.
They then entered complex mathematical equations, based on each substance’s molecular properties, to predict how any two would behave when blended.
The chemical, which consists of a rubber-like combo, can be sprayed, brushed, dipped or spin-coated onto numerous surfaces, and it binds tightly.
The coating can also withstand scratching, denting and other hazards of daily use, laboratory tests showed.
The omniphobic coating can also be used for protecting high-value equipment like sensors, radars and antennas from weather.
Similar coatings can also prevent ice from forming on ships operating in cold regions, or make ice removal much easier than conventional methods like scraping, Tuteja said.