Skip to main content

03.08.2017 | Materials Technology | News | Onlineartikel

Surface Coating Models Dolphin Skin

Nadine Winkelmann

In the "FLIPPER" ("Flow improvement through compliant hull coating for better ship performance") project, researchers from Fraunhofer IFAM and the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt, HVSA) are developing an artificial dolphin skin to reduce the surface drag in ships. 

Dolphins provide an excellent model for elegant and economical movement in water. These mammals can achieve amazing swimming feats due to their body shape and elastic skin. Their special skin properties cause a significant reduction in drag by maintaining a laminar flow along their surface. Drag-reducing hull coatings are of interest to the shipping industry since reducing ship’s drag significantly lowers fuel consumption. As part of the FLIPPER project funded by German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, researchers at Fraunhofer IFAM, HSVA and two other research partners have therefore developed a surface coating that, like dolphin skin, measurably reduces the drag in water.

Based on flow calculations for an almost six-metre-long ship’s model, Fraunhofer IFAM has developed a gel-like elastic polymer that is applied in layers a few millimetres thick on the bow area of the ship’s model. A thin, robust film forms the stable outer skin in the end. Field tests have shown a reduction in drag of up to six percent with this coating compared to a painted reference bow. The theoretical prediction that drag along the artificial dolphin skin is reduced with increasing layer thickness has been confirmed. Furthermore, this positive effect is shown to rise with growing speed, i.e. with increasingly turbulent flow. This clearly indicates that the compliant coating actually does work by delaying the transition from laminar flow to turbulence. 

The next aim is to make this technology usable for industrial applications. The potential savings can be maximised by combining the compliant coating with a grooved coating ("shark skin") at the ship’s stern. With this combined coating, artificial dolphin skin, which controls the laminar flow in the bow, would merge into artificial shark skin, which influences the turbulent flow in the middle and stern of the ship. Such functional coatings are attractive because they work without having to expend extra energy, making them potentially more cost-effective than active systems for controlling flow.

Weiterführende Themen

Die Hintergründe zu diesem Inhalt

2012 | Buch

Nature-Inspired Fluid Mechanics

Results of the DFG Priority Programme 1207 ”Nature-inspired Fluid Mechanics” 2006-2012

Premium Partner

in-adhesivesMKVSNeuer Inhalt

BranchenIndex Online

Die B2B-Firmensuche für Industrie und Wirtschaft: Kostenfrei in Firmenprofilen nach Lieferanten, Herstellern, Dienstleistern und Händlern recherchieren.



Technisches Interface Design - Beispiele aus der Praxis

Eine gute Theorie besticht nur darin, dass am Ende einer Entwicklung sinnvolle und nutzergerechte Produkte herauskommen. Das Forschungs- und Lehrgebiet Technisches Design legt einen starken Wert auf die direkte Anwendung der am Institut generierten wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse. Die grundlegenden und trendunabhängigen Erkenntnisse sind Grundlage und werden in der Produktentwicklung angewendet. Nutzen Sie die Erkenntnisse aus den hier ausführlich dargestellten Praxisbespielen jetzt auch für Ihr Unternehmen.
Jetzt gratis downloaden!


Die im Laufe eines Jahres in der „adhäsion“ veröffentlichten Marktübersichten helfen Anwendern verschiedenster Branchen, sich einen gezielten Überblick über Lieferantenangebote zu verschaffen.