Sometimes, the solution to a $2.5 trillion problem is hiding in plain sight.
The global shipping industry has a major rusting problem that costs an estimated $2.5 trillion each year, per a study from the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. That’s a lot of money.
A team of Indian scientists has found one solution to the issue in the leaves of mango trees. They developed a compound from the leaves that protects ships from rusting in a cost-effective, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly way. Win-win-win!
The scientists picked mango leaves because they’re rich in antioxidants and high in polyphenols, which resist corrosion.
The compound has yet to be tested in the field, but it shows significant promise. It inhibits corrosion in commercial steel by 99% when immersed in a saline solution that is similar to seawater.
“This is a novel approach to dealing with the problem of corrosion but so far it has been tested only in simulated laboratory conditions rather than in actual use,” Nitya Nand Gosvami, assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, told QZ.
With more research, this new method could be proven to be vastly superior to the most widely accepted current methods, such as galvanizing with zinc or coating with epoxy-based paints.
“What has been developed is a dip-coated method—we do not know the strength of this coating and its ability to resist wear and tear in real conditions outside the laboratory, or the commercial viability of the product,” Nitya explained.
Other plant-based methods for reducing corrosion are also under study, including date palm seed extract, ginger root extract, and an extract of seaweed and horsemint.