The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is a front runner in supporting and bringing forth innovative solutions to fuel consumption.A clean ship is a happy ship.
"One of the avoidable costs in fuel for the Navy is related to marine fouling such as barnacles that accumulate on ships," said ONR Program Officer Steve McElvany. "They create increased drag as these ships move from port to port across the world's oceans."
Known as a "hard fouler" for ships worldwide, colonized barnacles and biofilms on the hull of a Navy ship translate into roughly 500 million dollars annually in extra maintenance and fuel costs that are required to keep ships free of barnacles, oysters, algae and other marine life.
In fact, the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Carderock (NSWCCD) estimates that biofouling reduces vessel speed by up to 10 percent. Vessels can require as much as a 40 percent increase in fuel consumption to counter the added drag.
The Naval Materials Division of ONR's Sea Warfare and Weapons Department is sponsoring the research on environmentally safe antifouling solutions which is developing this innovation, an autonomous underwater hull grooming robot.
The best way to stop barnacles from colonizing is don't let them settle and colonize on the hull in the first place. With that in mind, ONR recently conducted tests with a developmental ship hull grooming robot, called the Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming tool or Hull BUG. The tests showed that this little groomer, similar in concept to a autonomous robotic home vacuum cleaner or lawn mower has a lot of promise.
Oh, can you teach it to use a needle gun?
In case you don't know who Huey, Dewey, and Louie are, click here. And yes, Silent Running was one of the most important movies of the '70s WRT its influence on 'ole Phib.