AIRCOAT (Air Induced friction Reducing ship COATing) is a three-year project that started on May 2018 and received funding from the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 framework. The project aims at developing a passive air lubrication technology inspired by the Salvinia effect. Applying the biomimetic AIRCOAT technology to ship-hull surfaces will produce a thin permanent air layer when submerged in water. This will reduce the overall frictional resistance, while acting as a physical barrier between water and the hull surface. In addition to reducing energy consumption, the air barrier will inhibit the attachment of maritime organisms (biofouling) and dampen acoustic emissions.
An interdisciplinary team of ten European partners develops the AIRCOAT prototype, which will be validated by experimental and numerical methods and demonstrated in operational environments. Major advantages of AIRCOAT to existing technologies is that the ship hull is passively lubricated and that the refit technology would be immediately applicable to the whole fleet. Project Coordinator Johannes Oeffner from the Fraunhofer CML comments: “AIRCOAT has a high potential to become a ground-breaking technology to increase energy efficiency and reduce ship emissions in the future.”
The Fraunhofer CML coordinates the project and bridges the gap between research and industry to ensure the holistic AIRCOAT approach. CML contributes to optimising the AIRCOAT surface structure via experimental and numerical methods and analyse results allowing transferring it to larger scales and application to real ships. Besides developing a method to quantify and monitor the air layer, CML will further be part of assessing the economic and environmental impact of AIRCOAT.