Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Bremen have developed a paint which they say improves the efficiency of ships, aircraft and wind turbines by reducing their flow resistance.

They have achieved this by modelling the paint’s structure on the scales of fast-swimnming sharks which evolved in a manner that significantly diminishes drag.

Carribean Reef Sharl (Image by Albert Kok via Wikimedia)
Carribean Reef Sharl (Image by Albert Kok via Wikimedia)

The challenge was to do this in a paint that could withstand the extreme demands of aviation – temperature fluctuations of -55 to +70 °C; intensive UV radiation and high speeds. Yvonne Wilke, Dr. Volkmar Stenzel and Manfred Peschka have not only developed such a paint but also the technology needed to manufacture and apply it.

The paint incorporates nanoparticles which ensure that it withstands UV radiation, temperature change and mechanical loads, on an enduring basis. The paint is applied throgh a stencil which gives it its sharkskin structure.

The scientists calculated that if applied to every plane in the world, the paint could save 4.48 million tonnes of fuel a year. If applied to a single large container ship, ot would save 2,000 tonnes of fuel a year and, if applied to wind turbine blades, it would also improve the efficiency of wind farms.

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