Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany have discovered that tiny vanadium pentoxide nanoparticles can inhibit the growth of barnacles, bacteria, and algae on surfaces in contact with water, such as ship hulls, sea buoys, or offshore platforms. Their experiments showed that steel plates to which a coating containing dispersed vanadium pentoxide particles had been applied could be exposed to seawater for weeks without the formation of deposits of barnacles, bacteria, and algae. In comparison, plates that were coated only with the ship's normal paint exhibited massive fouling after exposure to seawater for the same period of time. The discovery could lead to the development of new protective, antifouling coatings and paints that are less damaging to the environment than the ship coatings currently used.
Marine fouling is a problem that costs the shipping industry more than 200 billion dollars per year. The accumulation of organisms such as algae, mussels, and barnacles increases the objects' water resistance and, in consequence, fuel consumption. This means additional costs for shipping companies and, even worse, increased environmental damage due to extra CO2 emissions.
Vanadium pentoxide nanoparticles mimic natural enzymes and inhibit surface build-up of algae and bacteria. "Vanadium pentoxide nanoparticles, due to their poor solubility and the fact that they are embedded in the coating, are considerably less toxic to marine life than are the tin- and copper-based active substances used in the commercially available products," explains Wolfgang Tremel, Professor at JGU
Article Source: http://www.uni-mainz.de/eng/15482.php
Publication Date: 02 July 2012
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