Features Features (News) — 22 February 2013
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Ocean Engineers Begin Testing HullBUG for U.S. Navy

From left: John Hearin; Abe Stephens, CCBC lab manager; and Suzy Houser, undergraduate student assistant, deploy HullBUG.

Geoff Swain and postdoc John Hearin, Florida Tech Center for Corrosion and Biofouling Control, have begun testing the SeaRobotics Corp. HullBUG (Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming) system. Testing takes place at the newly commissioned Large Scale Seawater Facility, located at Port Canaveral and funded by the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The autonomous HullBUG system is designed to crawl on ship hulls or other underwater structures and \”groom\” their surface, eliminating marine growth and keeping the surfaces smooth.

“The highly automated proactive grooming, or light cleaning, a process developed by SeaRobotics and funded by ONR, will revolutionize hull maintenance allowing it to remain in a clean state at all times,” said Swain. He, Hearin and their undergraduate and graduate students have begun putting HullBUG through its paces on an 8-foot by 30-foot steel plate, coated with U.S. Navy-qualified antifouling coatings, which simulates a ship’s hull.

The benefits of improved hull condition are dramatic. The estimated five percent improvement in fuel efficiency achieved through proactive grooming translates into a savings of $15 billion a year for the worldwide shipping industry.

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