Marine Vessel Drag Reduction with Smart Coatings

Principal Investigator

Dr. Xili Duan, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Website: Duan Lab – Interfacial Thermofluids and Energy

Collaborator: Graphite Innovation and Technologies Inc.

Project Description

This project aims to develop and characterize smart coatings for marine vessel drag reduction. Earlier studies have shown that superhydrophobic surfaces with this type of coatings lead to significant benefits including lower drag and improved corrosion resistance. This project will further investigate GIT’s graphene-based smart coatings and develop new coatings with polymers and nanoparticles for drag reduction purposes. The research will focus on understanding the fundamental surface wettability, adhesion, and particularly the drag reduction mechanism.

Project location

Interfacial Thermal Fluids and Energy Research Lab, Memorial University, St. John’s, NL and GIT, Dartmouth, NS


The candidate must demonstrate academic excellence and relevant research skills/experience. This position requires fundamental knowledge in surface physics and chemistry, a background in fluid mechanics and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and experience in fluid flow experiments and simulations. The candidate must have finished an undergraduate degree or a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering or Chemical Engineering, or a similar engineering program with relevant courses in the areas listed above. Student excellence includes an outstanding academic record (high GPA) in the previous programs. Experience and knowledge in marine coatings and drag reduction research and antifouling and anticorrosive coatings for the shipping industry would be an asset. Previous research publication record is preferred.

How to apply

Email your curriculum vitae and a cover letter outlining how your background demonstrates excellence and fits with the position, interest and any other relevant details to by DATE. Applications received after this date may still be considered.

The successful candidate must meet the admission requirements and apply to the project’s home department and university.

About Graphite Innovation and Technologies Inc.

As Canada’s leading graphene protective coatings company, GIT is focused on using graphene to deliver solutions for a wide range of applications, including marine transportation. GIT’s smart coatings technologies aim to tackle and solve complex issues by being part of the solution, with the end goal of solving the environmental crisis and saving money for the shipping industry.

The project consists of a comparative assessment between the new environmentally  friendly coatings that will be developed by GIT and a benchmark marine coating – such  as anti-fouling biocide-based, copolymer auto polishing, or foul release marine coatings.  Graphene-based coatings have demonstrated potential to be a suitable eco-friendly  alternative to protect ship hulls against corrosion and biofouling. The significance of this  project is to demonstrate the ability of graphene-based coatings versus traditional marine coatings to reduce marine industry emissions while minimizing harm to marine  life.  

The development will include the synthesis of green chemistry formulations that will  have surface characteristics that are repulsive to ocean micro-organisms and develop  an “easy to clean effect,” other than being ultra-low drag surfaces so the ships will  consume less fuel. Factors such as biofouling growth, adhesion of fouling organisms,  types of fouling in each environmental, operational, and environmental impacts, coating  adhesion performance, effect of surface characteristics on shipping fuel efficiency,  effect of VOC/GHG emissions on a global scale.

The project will consider marine  coatings in its five stages, as follows: production of coating, application of coating,  operation of the ship with coating, maintenance of the ship (hull cleaning and recoating  if necessary), end of life and disposal.

This joint research program runs in the Halifax-Dartmouth technological park for 3 years. It encompasses three sub-projects: 

  1. Life cycle assessment of Smart Marine Coatings (Engineering) – POSITION FILLED
  2. Study of the fundamental elements of biofouling growth on engineered surfaces (Biology or Chemistry) – 1 POSITION AVAILABLE
  3. Development and characterization of durable foul release smart marine coatings (Materials Science) –  2 POSITIONS AVAILABLE