May 20, 2010 | 16:34
Swimmers knew it all along, covering a surface with a sharkskin-like structure reduces drag and surface friction. Consequently, it can reduce CO2 emission, by cutting down on fuel usage, if you'd put it on an airplane. Less friction means less fuel burned! A team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research in Bremen (or "IFAM" for short :P) won the prestigious Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for developing a paint (and its manufacturing technology) that mimics these beneficial properties of shark skin.

Things an average airplane in-flight is exposed to - and olympic swimmers much less - are huge differences in temperature (anywhere between -55 and +70°C), high speeds (around 800-900km/h - not even the fastest of the olympic swimmers will match that anytime soon... ;)), and strong UV radiation. The sharkskin-paint needs to be able to withstand all that: it's pretty tough stuff.

Now if you're not convinced of the awesomeness of sharkpaint, let me throw some numbers your way: if every plane on earth would get a paintjob like this once a year, it will save 4.480.000 tons of fuel. But the potential applications go beyond just airplanes, think of ships (sharkships!), windmills... olympic swimmers!?

Read more at EurekAlert!
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