Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Sharks to help Dolphins

I find science and technology news interesting to read but that's the nerd in me. Anyway, I ran across this Sharks Provide Key Insight For New, Non-toxic Anti-algae Coating news item in the ScienceDaily recently. Another Link here to original University of Florida release. Here's an excerpt on how the research on the unique placoid scale structure of shark skin could benefit the Navy and submarines.

According to the Navy, algae and barnacles on hulls increase drag, slowing ships and reducing fuel efficiency. Of the $550 million to $600 million the Navy spends annually on powering its ships and submarines, at least $50 million stems directly from fouling-related increased drag, said Stephen McElvany, a program officer in environmental quality in the Navy's physical science division. The Navy hopes to find both a more effective and environmentally friendly technology than the copper-based paints.

"If achieved, this improved coating could not only be exempt from future environmental constraints and regulations, it would also provide increased fuel efficiency and velocity of Navy vessels," McElvany said.

I'm a little torn though, because I feel the elimination of barnacles on hulls may severely reduce the effectiveness of the Navy tradition of Keel hauling . A particularly effective threat for submarine qualifications dinks.

If the research becomes practical and applied to submarines maybe the Navy will return to naming subs after fish.

I seem to recall a theory that pier side you could usually tell if a boat had been on a northern run (cold water) or been south (warm water) by the color of the stuff on the hull (green stuff or a white salty look). Don't remember which was which?

No comments: