The US Navy is working with researchers from the University of Michigan to create a new water-repellent coating that will help submarines travel better through water and allow officials to save millions in fuel costs.
According to Task and Purpose, the substance, which is scientifically known as a superhydrophobic coating, will reduce the submarine's drag by creating an "air film" of millions of bubbles that encases the vessel and causes water to "slide off."
Drag is the resistance created by the movement of a hull through water.
"As much as 60 percent of fuel can be used on drag, maybe higher depending on speed," Anish Tuteja, a researcher involved in the project, told the outlet. "We have the potential of cutting that significantly."
Tuteja later noted that he and his team tested out hundreds of chemical combinations in order to create the right coating for the job.
"For this particular application, you have to get the texture exactly right. If the pores are too big, the water can essentially go into the pores and then it gets in and the drag actually increases, and if the pores are too small it doesn't create enough drag, so it had to be in the right regime to create drag," the researcher explained, before indicating that the process would take a few years before it's applied to submarines.
The team's next task is to make sure that the substance is durable enough to stay on underwater vessels for years, Popular Mechanics reported.