Nanotechnology? Nanotech? Anything to do with nanotechnology? Well if the answers to those questions are beyond you, then don’t despair, as there are millions of us around the globe coming to terms with nano-products. Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. It is the way forward and the shipping world will undoubtedly benefit from its introduction in many aspects of the industry.
One of the more interesting angles is the development of nanotechnology- based coatings for ship hulls: nano products in this case operate at a micro level and their use in ship hull coatings offers a protective repellent barrier to water, other liquids and wildlife often found on the hulls of vessels. The removal – or more importantly the reduction – of mould, algae, dirt and fungus can give greater fuel consumption and prevent damage to the hull’s integrity. It is here that non-technology has a great part to play in modern shipping. Nanocoatings can be used in both military and commercial steel ship hulls along with steel, fibreglass and aluminium hulls.
The benefits of better fuel economy and the reduction in the need for cleaning and dry-dicking vessels with nanocoatings are evident but it is also a matter of environmental concern. Since the coatings are free from environmentally damaging heavy metals and pesticides don’t need to be used to clean the hulls, there is an extra benefit to the use of nanacoatings.
As we move deeper into a digital age the new technologies that spring from research and development will play an increasing part in the maritime world. Now is the ideal time to think ahead and believe that when it comes to environmental concerns, the maritime world is still ahead of the game.