Innovation for a greener, cleaner marine industry
The growth of marine organisms, such as fungi and mussels, on the hull of a ship increase its fuel consumption by as much as 40%. Crude oil spilled from an accident on a lake or an ocean can have a severely detrimental impact on the surrounding environment. These two seemingly unrelated issues have a common solution offered by Guojun Liu, Canada Research Chair in Materials Science.
Liu tailor-makes polymer coatings for various uses. For example, to reduce the incidence of marine organisms attaching to and growing on vessels, he is developing a very slippery, non-toxic polymer coating that readily shreds off deposited materials from a ship’s surface as it moves. He is also experimenting with other unexplored mechanisms for the shredding of marine deposits.
Liu is also developing a coating that can be applied onto a metal mesh to facilitate the scooping up of spilled oil from water surfaces. This coated metal mesh can act as a filter. It covers the opening of large barrels which collect the spilled oil but reject the water. Such high-flux, large-pore filters should be able to free crude oil from water as well.
Liu designs and prepares his coatings with precise structural and functional control from molecular- to nanometer- and micrometer-sized scales. Some of his coating technologies are already being commercialized by Canadian industry. The new coating technologies that he develops will find diversified applications and help Canada maintain a competitive edge in this market.