Ship Hull Cleaning Challenge
By Harry T. Roman
Many great inventions start when
a bold inventor is brave enough to
change the problem, or redefine it into
a unique or out-of-the-box context.
hip hulls must be cleaned to remove marine growth Are there similar applications where large surfaces are
that can actually increase their resistance through the treated and painted from which there might be a chance
water. Repairs must be made to the huge steel surface; to adopt or adapt technology for the ship hull challenge?
and, of course, the hull must be sanded and painted to Certainly there should be some serious library or Internet
prevent rust. How would your students address this problem search of the technology to see what is out there and how
and perhaps even automate the entire process? others may have approached this problem.
The Problem For instance, let’s look at some other large surface areas that
When a ship is going to have its hull cleaned, it is brought need cleaning, treatment, and painting:
into a dry dock where it can be worked on. It is a big job, H
• ow are airplane wings and bodies worked on and
time consuming, and not terribly pleasant, with lots of dust painted?
and grime in the air. There is plenty of time allocated to H
• ow are planes de-iced before takeoff?
prepare for the job, and lots of time and effort expended H
• ow about those huge oil storage tanks in tank farms?
to break the job down when it is done. How can a great They are cleaned, treated, and painted on the inside and
expanse of metal surface, sometimes irregular at times, be outside.
cleaned, prepped, and painted? H
• ow does the military clean, treat, and paint its
24 • The Te c hnolo gy Te ac her • May/