#965: SlipShells

Sometimes swimming against the tide can actually be a valuable metaphor to adopt.

Enormous resources have been expended on special surface coatings which are intended to discourage fouling of seagoing vessels by barnacles.


Today’s invention reverses this logic. For large bodies which are broadly circular in cross section, adding barnacles can have a drag reducing effect (just as with the dimples on a golf ball, barnacles can ‘trip’ the flow boundary layer into turbulence).

Such an approach can be applied to eg oil and gas risers, which are often damaged by tidal and wave forces. These could be significantly lessened if the circular pipes were each equipped with a smallbore tube delivering barnacle larval food material from an onboard tank.

This would allow a natural and automated form of drag reduction.

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