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Health, Science & Tech

Barnacles Beware, Navy Takes Interest In Local Company's Boat-Preserving Technology

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Melinda Roeder
/
90.5 WESA

A doctorate project-turned-start up by two University of Pittsburgh students has grown from its days sharing a space at AlphaLab in East Liberty.

Kasey Catt and Noah Snyder first started InterPhase Materials with the intent of developing nontoxic coatings to be used inside the body for brain or dental implants. But after hitting roadblocks with the FDA, they refocused their efforts on coatings to keep marine life, such as mussels and barnacles, and mold from sticking to boats and buildings. 

“It’s a huge issue in what they call architectural coating, whether it’s on exterior decks, the inside of your home, or in ventilation,” Snyder said.

Catt said now they’re participating in pilot projects with global paint manufacturers, but it seems the future of Interphase Materials is about to cross a new frontier – under the sea – where their chemical compounds have recently caught the attention of the U.S. Navy.

“So barnacles or mussels love to grow on a pier or any part of a dock, but also on boats," Snyder said. "If you look at large shipping vessels, barnacles growing on a boat can reduce fuel efficiency upwards of 40 percent. It’s a huge issue."

In this week's Tech Headlines: 

  • The University of Pittsburgh is investing about $1 million in gap funding over the next two years to help Pitt innovators commercialize their research discoveries. Some of the funding has already been awarded for inventions like a wheelchair for people who are sight impaired and a device that fights stress by stimulating nerves in the head and neck.   
  • Six classic video games have just been inducted into the World Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y. Space Invaders, Grand Theft Auto III, The Oregon Trail, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda and The Sims were honored for their influence on gaming and pop culture.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.