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Halifax innovator advances smart coating for ship hulls

June 23, 2021   Maryam Farag

Entrepreneur Marciel Gaier has been awarded the Mitacs Environmental Entrepreneur Award for advancing a smart coating for ship hulls.

Gaier, 29, advanced the paint, which is the first patented technology to use nanoparticles of graphite to achieve a sustainable marine coating, through his start-up, Halifax-based Graphite Innovation and Technologies (GIT).

The coating system provides a low-VOC, non-toxic alternative that reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per journey, as international legislation bans the use of toxic compounds in ship coatings.

“Our goal is to solve the environmental issues facing the shipping industry, but we’re also helping to reduce overall costs at the same time,” said Gaier, noting that a ship with a heavy coating of slime can require up to 38 per cent more energy to maintain the same speed as a vessel with a clean hull.

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GIT’s coating creates a slippery surface so that any buildup is washed away as a ship moves through water, leading to less drag. If the vessels are not moving, the surface can be cleaned by modern techniques such as water pressure or mechanical brushes.

“Supporting innovation is essential to help Canada rebound from the repercussions of the global pandemic, and Mitacs is extremely proud of the remarkable accomplishments achieved by our network of talented entrepreneurs,” said John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs. “We are thrilled that our continued investment in talent, research and development is translating into more and more Mitacs interns successfully turning their ground-breaking research into dynamic start-ups, helping to boost both Canada’s economy and our country’s position on the global innovation stage.”