RadTech Award Winner: MicroTau receiving $980K to bring shark skin efficiency to unmanned vehicles

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MicroTau Pty Ltd, New South Wales, Australia, was presented with an Emerging Technology Awards for their low cost, printed “shark-skin” surface, demonstrated to reduce drag and improve efficiency for airplanes, cars, other vehicles and wind turbines; and provide biocide-free antifouling materials for marine vessels; antibacterial surfaces in hospitals and aircraft tray tables; and self-cleaning paints and microfluidic devices.

Australian inventor Henry Bilinsky has used Shark Skin as a basis for a new drag reduction surface for planes. Currently under test by the US Air Force, this nature based design is looking to save millions of dollars for Military and Commercial Airlines by reducing drag.

“MicroTau is developing a novel method of applying drag-reducing microstructures – called ‘riblets’ – onto the surface of aircraft to reduce fuel consumption. Riblets are microscopic ridges spaced a fraction of the width of a human hair apart. As a rule a smoother surface is more aerodynamic, however these ridges – designed over millions of years of evolution – actually decrease drag when compared to a perfectly smooth surface.” MicroTau

This may be able to be used in the marine environment with similar results.