Shark inspired paint can cut down aviation costs

May 21st, 2010 - 4:06 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 21 (IANS) An innovative paint, inspired by shark scales, can reduce fuel consumption in airplanes and ships by minimising resistance in water or air.
The scales of fast-swimming sharks have evolved in a manner that significantly diminishes drag, or their resistance to the flow of currents. The challenge was to apply this knowledge to a paint that could withstand the extreme demands of aviation.

Yvonne Wilke, Volkmar Stenzel and Manfred Peschka of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering in Germany, not only developed a paint that reduces aerodynamic drag but also impacted associated manufacturing technology.

The paint involves a sophisticated formulation. An integral part of the recipe: the nanoparticles, ensure that the paint withstands ultraviolet radiation, temperature change and mechanical loads on an enduring basis.

“Paint offers more advantages,” explains Volkmar Stenzel. “It is applied as the outermost coating on the plane, so that no other layer of material is required.”

“It adds no additional weight, and even when the airplane is stripped - about every five years, the paint has to be completely removed and reapplied - no additional costs are incurred,” adds Stenzel.

When applied to every airplane every year worldwide, the paint could save a volume of 4.48 million tonnes of fuel, said a Fraunhofer Institute release.

This also applies to ships: The team was able to reduce wall friction by more than five percent in a test with a ship construction testing facility. Extrapolated over one year, that means potential savings of 2,000 tonnes of fuel for a large container ship.

These findings were published in a May special edition of Research News.

-Indo Asian News Service

St/pg

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