SCPS graduate making waves in marine antifouling industry

Following the completion of his PhD in 2016, SCPS graduate Eldon Tate has made an immediate impact in the field of functionalised materials, with a particular focus on the marine antifouling industry in New Zealand.

Marine antifouling

Eldon Tate graduated with a PhD in Chemistry from Victoria in 2016. He completed his PhD under the supervision of Professor Jim Johnston in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences. His research focussed on functional materials, imparting new and interesting properties to plastics and paints through the incorporation of nanoparticles.

With the end of his PhD in sight, Eldon wasted no time in kick-starting his career. Between submitting his thesis and graduation, he had already secured investment from PowerHouse Ventures Ltd and started up an antimicrobial coatings company, Inhibit Coatings Limited. The company is producing novel antimicrobial coatings for various applications. The coatings will initially be targeted for use in the HVAC industry, with marine antifouling the ultimate goal.

The coatings use unique silver nanotechnology and have been applied to a number of resin systems including acrylics, epoxies and polyurethanes. Using very low silver concentrations and extremely low leach rates, the technology creates robust coatings with a long antimicrobial and antifouling lifetime, while having a minimal environmental impact.

To date these coatings have been effective against E. coli, and retain activity after numerous cleanings with common cleaning agents, making them ideal for HVAC, food safety, and medical applications where the coatings can prevent the growth of mould, fungi and bacteria.

For marine antifouling, preliminary experiments have demonstrated the coatings' ability to prevent Ciona savignyi (sea squirt) and diatom settlement, while also showing promising static resistance to biofouling in the New Zealand marine environment. Antifouling coatings prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, while also protecting the vessels themselves, decreasing fuel consumption and lowering maintenance costs.

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