A metal-composite coating has been found to halve the amount of barnacle and algae build-up on boat parts with an Australian navy ship trialling the new technology.
A single layer of the carbide-based coating is successfully being been tested on hydraulic parts on HMAS Canberra, a landing helicopter dock ship, researchers said on Wednesday.
"These new protective coatings reduce biofouling (barnacle build-up) by roughly 50 per cent compared to current standard coatings," Andrew Ang, one of the lead scientists from Swinburne University of Technology, said.
"It is designed to be used on safety equipment, propellers ... things that are critical and expensive and you do not want them to break while out in the ocean."
The material is applied to machinery parts with a supersonic combustion flame jet.
However it's expected to be too costly to be used on the whole hull. For example a rod about two-metres long and 20cm wide would be estimated to cost about $2000, Dr Ang said.
University researchers worked with experts at Defence Materials Technology Centre, MacTaggart Scott Australia, United Surface Technologies and the Defence Science and Technology Group to advance the technology.
"If the coating can double the length of time a ship can be at sea or available to be deployed - before it needs to be docked and cleaned - it could save costs and also increase operational readiness for the defence force," Dr Richard Piola, from DSTG, said.
More than 100 samples have also been tested in seawater at three field sites around Australia between 2015 to 2017.