US Navy ONR sponsors development of omniphobic coating for ships

26 June 2018 (Last Updated June 26th, 2018 12:38)

The US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) is sponsoring the development of a new type of ‘omniphobic’ ship coating that is intended to help reduce fuel and energy costs.

US Navy ONR sponsors development of omniphobic coating for ships
Hexadecane oil poured onto a glass slide covered with an omniphobic coating. Credit: Robert Coelius, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing.

The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) is sponsoring the development of a new type of ‘omniphobic’ ship coating that is intended to help reduce fuel and energy costs.

The coating can repel water, oil and alcohol and is expected to help save millions of dollars in ship fuel costs for the US navy.

It is also capable of reducing vessels’ fuel consumption, while increasing overall operational efficiency.

"If we could find a way to drastically reduce friction drag, vessels would consume less fuel or battery power and enjoy a greater range of operations."

The clear and durable omniphobic coating can be applied to different surfaces and is noted to efficiently shed almost any liquid.

The coating can help to reduce friction drag, which is the resistance created during the movement of a hull through water on ships, submarines and unmanned underwater vessels.

ONR Sea Warfare and Weapons Department programme officer Dr Ki-Han Kim said: “A significant percentage of a ship’s fuel consumption, up to 80% at lower speeds and 40%-50% at higher speeds, goes toward maintaining its speed and overcoming friction drag.

“If we could find a way to drastically reduce friction drag, vessels would consume less fuel or battery power and enjoy a greater range of operations.”

A coated ship can theoretically use less fuel as it doesn’t have to fight as much water resistance in order to maintain its speed.

University of Michigan associate professor of materials science and engineering Dr Anish Tuteja is being sponsored by ONR to develop the omniphobic coating.

The new type of coating has been created after Tuteja and his research team evaluated a number of extensive computer databases of known chemical substances.

The researchers entered complex mathematical equations based on each substance’s molecular properties in order to predict how any two would behave when blended.

A suitable mix was eventually found after the scientists analysed hundreds of combinations.

The omniphobic coating can also withstand scratching, denting and other hazards associated with daily operation.