Air-Induced friction Reducing ship COATing
The overall goal of AIRCOAT is to make European waterborne transport more energy efficient and less polluting by developing a disruptive hull coating that reduces the frictional resistance of ships.
The AIRCOAT project will enhance a passive air lubrication technology that utilises the biomimetic Salvinia effect. This effect enables trapping air through combination of a hydrophobic micro-structured surface with hydrophilic pins. The project will technologically implement this effect on a self-adhesive foil system. Applying a ship with such an AIRCOAT foil will produce a thin permanent air layer, which reduces the overall frictional resistance while acting as a physical barrier between water and hull surface.
Besides substantially reducing main engine fuel oil consumption and hence exhaust gas emission, the air barrier further inhibits the attachment of fouling, the release of biocide substances (of underlying coatings) to the water and mitigates the radiation of ship noise. As a refit technology, it is immediately applicable to the whole fleet, is independent of the fuel type and can be combined with other efficiency improving technologies. Consequently, the technology creates both an economical and an environmental benefit.
The interdisciplinary AIRCOAT consortium will develop small-scale prototypes to optimise the surface characteristics of this new technology supported by experimental and numerical methods. AIRCOAT will further produce large-scale pilots to demonstrate the efficiency and industrial feasibility in operational environments (laboratory, research ships and container ship). Finally, the project will perform a full-scale validation process to boost the technology towards market readiness.
The AIRCOAT project will demonstrate the high potential of this game-changing technology to revolutionise the maritime coating sector and to become a ground-breaking future energy efficiency and emission reduction technology.