NDSU Receives Competitive Research Award from Navy; Also Receives Federal Funds to Add Laboratory Space

Fargo, N.D. – A research team at North Dakota State University is receiving $480,000 in a competitive grant award from the Office of Naval Research for research on coatings for ship hulls. Dr. Dean Webster, chair of the department of coatings and polymeric materials at NDSU, will receive a $480,000 award over three years for research titled “Tailoring the Surface Properties of Coatings through Self-Stratification.”

In addition, scientists and engineers at NDSU’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and three Centers of Excellence at NDSU are receiving $1.4 million in sponsored research and competitive grant awards from global companies such as Triton Systems, PPG Industries, Starkey Laboratories and other organizations for research in coatings and microelectronics. Additional federal funds from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Centers of Excellence enhancement funding has been awarded to NDSU to add laboratory space.

The NDSU research funded by the Office of Naval Research supports development of coatings that prevent barnacles and other sea life from attaching to ships. Barnacles slow ships down, resulting in increased fuel cost due to drag and resistance; dry docking to clean ships results in lost time; resistance or drag affects the ability of aircraft carriers to attain speeds needed for jets to launch from shipdecks; and current removal methods are very toxic. Research underway works on solutions to these problems. Think of it as a non-stick coating for ship hulls.

NDSU scientists had previously received such funding through earmark awards for research from Congress. “This new research funding was awarded on a competitive basis, showing the expertise of NDSU researchers in competing for funding with other research enterprises across the country,” said Philip Boudjouk, vice president for research, creative activities and technology transfer. “Their expertise and scientific proposals merited the awards.”

NDSU is internationally known for its coatings research and Boudjouk says this type of research allows for eventual transfer to commercial market applications. It’s one of the factors leading to adding 35,000 sq. ft. to the Research 1 building located in the Research and Technology Park. This will primarily contain additional laboratories where researchers develop technologies with private companies that can be transferred into the commercial marketplace.

Construction of the additional laboratory space is expected to begin in early May of 2012 and be completed in the third quarter of 2013. The addition is funded through a federal $5 million construction award received from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and a $4 million enhancement award from the North Dakota Economic Development Centers of Excellence Program. The COE Commission approved the award in 2009. Additional labs will be connected to the south of the existing Research 1 building.

“This infrastructure is expected to provide a platform to move a larger number and broader spectrum of technologies to market. We expect the net result to be enhanced economic development in the state,” said Boudjouk.  

For example, early technologies being developed from NDSU’s coatings research protect against corrosion (metals), mold (wood, fiberboard), and oxidation (statues, medallions, works of art).  Commercialization of technologies in catalysis, photovoltaics/solar cells, flexible electronics, advanced batteries, and other coatings are also targeted.  

According to a National Science Foundation survey, NDSU ranks nationally in the top 100 research universities in chemistry, physical sciences, social sciences, computer science and agricultural sciences. NDSU is among the top 108 universities in the country with very high research activity, as determined by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. NDSU is a student focused, land-grant, research university – an economic engine that educates students, conducts primary research, creates new knowledge and advances technology.

Office of Naval Research funding is provided for the coatings research project through Award No. N000141210482.
National Institute of Standards and Technology funding is provided through Award No. 60NANB10D287.

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