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A new spray can heal damaged ships in minutes

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Posted January 14, 2019

Navy ships are extremely technologically advanced. They are fast, manoeuvrable and feature the latest and greatest weaponry. However, they are still vulnerable to various hazards, such as fires and missile attacks. Now a team of scientists led by RMIT University developed a spray, which could allow a ship to essentially repair itself within minutes.

A new spray helps composite materials of ships to be repaired in 10 minutes. Image credit: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos via Wikimedia

While this spray-on repair technology has been developed with navy ships in mind, it actually could be useful in other areas as well. It is specifically intended for composite materials, so it could be used to repair wind turbine blades, aircrafts, boats and other equipment. Currently damage has to be grinded out and filled in with new composites, but that takes a lot of time. Equipment is taken out of order, which costs a lot of money. This new spray allows composite surfaces to heal within minutes after the damage is done. Scientists compare this self-repairing ability to healing human body – it is that impressive.

A lot of ships are made from fibre composites and also aluminium. These materials are very light and decently strong, but they are vulnerable to extreme heat.  Ships are filled with flammable material, which is why fires can occur during peace time as well. In fact, a lot of them start while ships are at docks being repaired or maintained. Repairing fire damage is a long and costly process, which could put ships out of order for a long time. Furthermore, sometimes damage can put personnel in danger even after the fire is put out. That is why scientists have developed a model predicting fire damage in ships as well as a spray-on technology, which can repair the damage in minutes.

Essentially, the substance is just sprayed on a damaged area. Chemicals instantly bond to the composite surface and the hull of the ship starts healing immediately. Cracked or damaged fibre composite surfaces can be repaired within 10 minutes. Scientists also created a model predicts how long a fire can burn in a ship before it becomes a major safety hazard to the structural safety of the vessel.

In these models both composite materials and aluminium were included. Professor Adrian Mourtiz, leader of the team, said: “We took that information and then developed models, which allow people to predict how these two groups of materials will weaken, and when they’ll fail in the event of fire. That sort of work has never been done before. These models that we’ve developed can be used not only for naval ships; they can be used if there’s a fire on an aircraft, or in a building”.

So far the spray is still being developed, but it will be interesting to see how it will work. Although it’s been created for navy, it is likely to spread to other areas as well.

Source: RMIT University

 

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