Nishanth K Gopalan May Have Solved a $2.5 Trillion Shipping Problem

The Indian scientist’s team of academics has found a way of using mango leaf compounds to prevent steel from rusting.

31.07.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Giuseppe Murabito on Unsplash
Photo by Giuseppe Murabito on Unsplash

Rust is the ogre of the shipping industry, a pernicious problem that carves through the hulls of even the strongest transatlantic cruisers.

In fact, corrosion is so damaging that the National Association of Corrosion Engineers estimates that it costs the industry an estimated $2.5 trillion. Synthetic paints only go so far to patch the problem, and their effect on the seas and human health is toxic.

Wouldn’t it be great if a team of scientists were to say that they’d found a new solution, which is not only leagues more effective than current remedies, but environmentally friendly, too?

A scientist at the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Nishanth K Gopalan, has done just that. He led a team that tested the use of a compound drawn from mango leaves to prevent rust, building on the natural product’s well-known antioxidant and anti-corrosive properties.

After substantial X-ray photoelectron tests, Gopalan tells SciDev.Net that the new compound offers both insolubility and a 99% inhibition of corrosion in commercial steel.

More extensive testing, due to be carried out alongside the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, is planned to ensure that the breakthrough—which involves applying the mango-leaf compound in coatings—would work outside the laboratory, in the face of consistent wear and tear.

But, there are high hopes for the solution, which would also save money by extending the lifespan of trading vessels.

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