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    A*STAR researchers develop PMOx polymers to help design of antifouling agents

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    STAR researchers

    The A*STAR scientists have created a safe, polymer-based, coating under a research program for the Innovative Marine Antifouling Solutions. Marine fouling badly damages ships, seawater filtration systems, and harbor installations, and leads to expensive and time-consuming repairs. Fouling also corrodes ship hulls, which increases their fuel consumption. It has proven destructive for high-performance devices specific to the maritime industry, such as underwater communication equipment and buoy sensors. In the search for alternative coatings to biocides, Anbanandam Parthiban, and coworkers from the A*STAR Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences and Institute of Materials Research and Engineering have discovered so-called poly(methyl oxazoline) (PMOx) polymers that prevent microorganisms from sticking to surfaces and, where there is contact, facilitate their detachment. Traditional measures against marine fouling rely on coatings compounds harm the marine habitat, especially in shallow bays and harbors, leaving an extensive ecological footprint. According to Parthiban, low-adhesive polymers that form hydration layers on coated surfaces have emerged as potential antifouling agents. Parthiban described a peptide-like chemical backbone in PMOx, which shows greater resistance to oxidation than its widely-studied predecessor polyethylene glycol. This makes it attractive for long-term performance — a major challenge in the design of antifouling agents.

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