Novel coating could reduce carbon footprint of future aircrafts

Novel coating could reduce carbon footprint of future aircrafts
University of Surrey researchers have developed a new process to make bespoke coatings that could one day reduce the drag resistance of ships and aeroplanes and thereby lower fuel consumption.

The low cost, simple process, called infrared radiation-assisted evaporative lithography, has enabled the team of physicists to create plastic coatings with small bumps and ridges in sizes ranging from less than a millimetre to a couple of centimetres.

With the right design, the researchers believe this texture will reduce the drag forces when large vessels pass through air or water.

Project leader Professor Joseph Keddie, of the Department of Physics, said: "It's an exciting prospect to have an impact on the energy consumed by planes and ships through a straightforward, inexpensive technology.

"Our process can create coatings with nearly any desired texture to meet the particular requirements of an application. Our project will help to transfer our research ideas into industrial manufacturing."

To create the coating, the researchers used beams of infrared light to heat certain spots on wet coatings made of tiny plastic particles in water.

As the hotter spots evaporate more quickly, the plastic particles are then guided there as the evaporating water is replaced.

Prof Keddie says the textured coatings can be used to cover nearly any surface. He and his team have already filed an international patent application on their process and are now looking for partners to apply the new technology in applications.

Laura Hopperton

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