An inconspicuous plant could soon embark on a career as a climate saver: hairs on the surface of water ferns are to allow ships to have a 10 per cent decrease in fuel consumption. The plant has the rare ability to put on a gauzy skirt of air under water and keep this dress on for months. Researchers at the University of Bonn, Rostock and Karlsruhe have now discovered how the fern does this. Their results can possibly be used for the construction of new kinds of hulls which glide through the water in an envelope of air. Such kinds of ships would get by with significantly less fuel due to decreased friction. The scientists will present their research in the current issue of the journal 'Advanced Materials'.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is a public corporation and state institution of Baden-Württemberg. It fulfills the mission of a university and the mission of a national research center of the Helmholtz Association. KIT pursues its tasks in the knowledge triangle of research, teaching, and innovation.