NRL study on barnacle glue could save U.S. Navy millionsNews
August 27, 2019
WASHINGTON. Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory developed a new method for identifying the glue proteins that barnacles produce to adhere to ship hulls and other surfaces.
According to researchers, the new method is faster, safer, improves efficiency of samples, and yields more effective results than traditional methods. The discovery could lead to new solutions for dealing with the accumulation of barnacles on ship hulls, which hinders Navy operations by creating drag and increasing fuel costs.
Researchers have designed a study to test how the barocycler machine, a laboratory instrument used to subject specimens to cycles of pressure, could break down the proteins with three separate test solvents. The machine worked by continuously applying and releasing high pressure on the samples.
In the study, researchers identified more than 80 proteins, about double the number identified in previous studies. After they characterized the proteins, they discovered several enzymes, which the lab believes may play a role in the production of glue, the transport of proteins, or in the support of the barnacle molting process.