UK researchers have developed a new process to make custom coatings that could reduce the drag resistance and fuel consumption of ships and planes.
The low-cost, simple process has enabled the University of Surrey’s team of physicists to create plastic coatings with small bumps and ridges ranging in size from less than a millimeter to a couple of centimeters.
University of Surrey
|Researchers say the textured coating can be used to cover almost any surface.|
With the right design, the researchers believe the texture will reduce the drag forces when large vessels pass through air or water.
‘Straightforward, Inexpensive Technology’
“It’s an exciting prospect to have an impact on the energy consumed by planes and ships through a straightforward, inexpensive technology,” said project leader Joseph Keddie, of the university’s Department of Physics.
“Our process can create coatings with nearly any desired texture to meet the particular requirements of an application,” Keddie said. “Our project will help to transfer our research ideas into industrial manufacturing.”
How it Works
To create the coating, the researchers used beams of infrared light to heat certain spots on wet coatings made of tiny plastic particles in water.
As the hotter spots evaporate more quickly, the plastic particles are then guided there as the evaporating water is replaced.
The process is called infrared radiation-assisted evaporative lithography.
Keddie says the textured coatings can be used to cover nearly any surface. The team has already filed an international patent application on the process and is looking for partners to apply the new technology.