Anti-Corrosion Coating Helps Prevent Biofouling
In the ongoing effort to reduce drag on ships, as well as cut down on biofouling damage, researchers based out of Swinburne University of Technology recently developed a corrosion-resistant coating that can cut the buildup of algae on ships in half.
The research team—working in collaboration with experts from the Defence Materials Technology Centre; MacTaggart Scott Australia; United Surface Technologies; and the Defence Science and Technology Group—began testing the coating on the HMAS Canberra, a ship the Royal Australian Navy uses for landing helicopters.
Research project lead Andrew Ang, who previously won the 2018 Fresh Science competition for his work, explained that in the course of the study, the team used a supersonic combustion flame jet, “to coat hydraulic machinery parts and found these new protective coatings reduce biofouling by roughly 50 percent compared to current standard coatings.”
The treatment is composed of a single layer of carbide-based coating applied to ship parts with smooth surfaces; these parts are often exposed to harsh conditions and are known to degrade quickly due to biofouling and corrosion. So far, the coating has proven to be able to halve the build-up of algae and barnacles.
During testing, the team applied the coating to more than 100 samples, which were then immersed in seawater at three field sites around Australia from 2015-17. Now, the coating is being tested on a prototype system as well as in a real-world environment: the HMAS Canberra.
“If the coating can double the length of time a ship can be at sea or available to be deployed—before it needs to be docked and cleaned—it could save costs and also increase operational readiness for the Defence Force,” said Richard Piola, who works with Defence Science and Technology.