On June 23, 2016, it was announced that Dr. Xu (Shine) Zhang was awarded a Discovery Grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Dr. Zhang was awarded $20,270.00 over 5 years for a total of $101,350.00 for his work in Engineering Graphene Oxide based Nanocomposite Paints against Marine Biofouling.
Dr. Zhang joined CBU’s Verschuren Centre in September 2013 to start his independent research program on Applied Nanotechnology. His current research aims to combat the issue of biofouling, which is the settlement of marine microorganisms, plants, algae, and shellfish on a ship’s hull. “Biofouling-based friction results in decreased speeds and up to 40% increased fuel consumption,” says Dr. Zhang. “As a result, [it is] estimated that greenhouse gas emissions would be expected to increase 38-72% in marine shipping sector by 2020 if no new technologies are developed.”
Previous biofouling prevention methods used toxic coatings to clear the marine microorganisms from ship exteriors. Although effective in the short-term, these coatings have long-lasting and negative environmental effects.
The Discovery Grant of over $100k will greatly impact both Dr. Zhang’s research and the development of CBU students. “[This grant] would be enough to support one graduate student or two summer students every year to do some cool research at CBU,” says Dr. Zhang. “In addition, I can use the grant to support my students to attend relevant national conferences to promote their interests and appreciation in scientific research.”
Overall, Dr. Zhang is thankful for the grant and says, “it is a great starting point to prepare me for engaging industrial partners with my research and training students to perform cutting-edge applied research targeting at highly important industry needs in Maritime Canada, especially Nova Scotia.”