Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Battling The Barnacle

Date:
December 19, 2001
Source:
Office Of Naval Research
Summary:
For as long as we’ve been building boats and putting them in the water, we’ve been battling those pesky little ocean critters that want to attach themselves to our boats for a free ride. The ubiquitous, determined barnacle — not to mention tubeworms, oysters, algae, and an array of other invertebrates — has long been the bane of many a fleet and flotilla. Pitch, copper sheaths, oils and gums, pesticides, silicone, arsenic… over the centuries all have been tried, and none have completely solved the problem.

For as long as we’ve been building boats and putting them in the water, we’ve been battling those pesky little ocean critters that want to attach themselves to our boats for a free ride. The ubiquitous, determined barnacle — not to mention tubeworms, oysters, algae, and an array of other invertebrates — has long been the bane of many a fleet and flotilla. Pitch, copper sheaths, oils and gums, pesticides, silicone, arsenic… over the centuries all have been tried, and none have completely solved the problem.

Related Articles


And no wonder… the barnacle, for instance, is very good at what it does. This critter secretes a rapid underwater-curing cement that is among the most powerful natural glues known — with a tensile strength of 5,000 lbs per square inch and an adhesive strength that has been measured at 22 – 60 lbs per square inch. And that’s just barnacles. Blue mussels know how to make 21 different kinds of adhesives.

Attaching themselves to ship hulls, billions of crusty foulers cost the U.S. Navy over $50 million a year just in fuel costs due to drag. It’s estimated that a newly painted destroyer would lose 2 knots of speed every six months if not scraped and cleaned — and this doubles in tropical waters.

“It’s an age-old battle,” says Dr. Steve McElvany, ONR’s Program Manager for Environmental Quality, who also studies the mechanics of adhesion. “ONR is looking hard at the development of non-toxic, foul-release polymeric marine coatings.”

The problem is the toxicity of so many of the coatings that are used worldwide. “The old copper-based coatings are now known to be lethal to some marine organisms,” says Dr. Linda Chrisey, who as manager of Environmental and Marine Biotechnology at ONR, tries to understand which organisms settle on what surfaces, and why. “An environmentally concerned U.S. Navy never implemented the widespread use of the much more toxic tin-based paints on its ships, and has been using copper-based paints since the mid-1980’s, but that’s not true throughout the world.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Armistead, manager of ONR’s Polymer Chemistry program is looking for ideas to outwit the offensive critters. One is a flexible coating — organisms might try to settle on a ship but wouldn’t be able to grip tightly, allowing the organisms to adhere when the ship is in port, but sloughing them off once the ship reached cruising speed. Yet another idea might be found in textured hull coatings, where the very nature of the shape of the coating (i.e., pattern dimensions and surface energies), might be repugnant to the fouling organisms.

“Nothing is quite as easy as it sounds,” says Armistead. “The silicone based paints are fragile and scrape easily, although we are seeking to improve this with research on nano-composite additives. The textured coatings look promising for repelling barnacles, but not other types of foulers. And some of the other coatings we’re looking at seem to repel the fouling invertebrates, but confound us by attracting seaweed.”

Nevertheless, the Navy knows how to stick to things, too. In a recent Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), ONR solicited proposals in basic and applied research in the age-old battle of the barnacle, and is evaluating those proposals now.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Office Of Naval Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Office Of Naval Research. "Battling The Barnacle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011219062137.htm>.
Office Of Naval Research. (2001, December 19). Battling The Barnacle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011219062137.htm
Office Of Naval Research. "Battling The Barnacle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011219062137.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Buzz60 (Oct. 31, 2014) — For its nature series Life Story, the BBC profiled the barnacle goose, whose chicks must make a daredevil 400-foot cliff dive from their nests to find food. Jen Markham has the astonishing video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) — The import of salamanders around the globe is thought to be contributing to the spread of a deadly fungus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) — A health group in the United Kingdom has called for mandatory calorie labels on alcoholic beverages in the European Union. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) — Focus on treating the Ebola epidemic in Liberia means that treatment for malaria, itself a killer, is hard to come by. MSF are now undertaking the mass distribution of antimalarials in Monrovia. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins