Because seawater contains a significant concentration of dissolved salts and is thus very corrosive to steel, the shipping industry faces a considerable amount of damaging costs due to corrosion. Globally, the corrosion of ships and its prevention costs the industry an estimated $2.5 trillion. Toxic synthetic paints are usually used as a measure to prevent ships from rusting, but most of the time these are inefficient and harmful to the environment.
With some innovative thinking, a team of Indian scientists has developed an eco-friendly compound from the leaf of the mango tree that can protect ships from rusting. According to the scientists, mango leaves were selected for their anti-oxidant properties and their abundant content of polyphenols, which are known to resist corrosion.
After testing the compound, the researchers achieved 99 percent inhibition of corrosion in commercial steel when immersed in a saline medium to mimic seawater.
While more research is needed to commercialize the product, the plant-based coating alternative could just be the solution to this overwhelmingly expensive shipping problem.