Superhydrophobic Coating Would Make Submarines Glide More Smoothly

A new coating is being researched by the Navy. When applied to ships and submarines, it would reduce fuel costs by making them glide through the water more easily. What is this miracle substance? The coating is being referred to as “superhydrophobic”. It is thought that in regard to fuel costs, it will save millions of dollars for the Navy.

Superhydrophobic Coating

How does this coating work? Underneath the coating, millions of pockets of air are trapped. Water glides off of a surface thanks to an air film created by these pockets of air. The result is significantly reduced drag and lower friction.

How do drag and fuel relate to each other? Depending on speed, up to 60% of fuel can be burned because of drag – maybe more. Potentially, that can be cut significantly with the use of this miracle coating. But the coating is nothing new – far from it. For more than a decade, groups have been researching repellent coatings. A durable solution has been the problem, especially when researchers took into consideration the ocean’s harsh environment.

The Harsh Environment of the Ocean

The texture had to be exactly right in order for these coatings to work in this particular application. Not enough drag was created if the pores were too small. Drag actually increased, because water got into the pores, if the pores were too big. Before finding the right mix, hundreds of chemical combinations were analyzed.

The ultimate goal – create a coating that will endure for many years. Additionally, it needed to be applied much in the same manner that paint is applied to a ship’s hull. A spray paint of sorts. Because it needed to be textured for the creation of air pockets, the coating ended up having a rough white surface.

What Else Can Superhydrophobic Repel?

Not to be satisfied with their current success, research teams are already working on repellent coatings that will stand up to things other than water: i.e., alcohol, oil, and – of all things – peanut butter. And not to be left out, the Pentagon has requested that these coatings be tested for a multitude of uses. Their suggestions range from protective eyewear to the uniforms of soldiers.

Of course, these coatings also have various commercial applications. Some of these include but are not limited to preventing liquid stains on clothing and carpet (i.e., alcohol, juice, soda, etc.). A lot more proving and testing will need to be done before the Navy application of superhydrophobic coatings can be used on a regular basis. Before the Navy actually sees these coatings on their ships, it could, realistically, be several years (at least).

Why Use A&A Coatings for Your Thermal Spray?

At A&A Coatings, we have worked hand-in-hand with the defense and military industry for years. We have provided nonmetallic and metallic protective coatings on equipment surfaces that were prone to wear and corrosion. In fact, we have been approved to apply protective coatings for the United States Navy for more than 20 years.

A&A Coatings uses proven, high-tech methods of application to apply a wide array of protective thermal coatings. Numerous industries can benefit from the use of such techniques. Contact us today to see how your industry can benefit from thermal spray coatings.

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