A U.S. Navy research team has discovered an alloy for making better, cheaper underwater anodes with the potential for shifting the global business of maintaining ships and piers.
A patent application was published by the federal government on Thursday for the new aluminum anode alloy containing a "very small addition of tin."
It was invented by Craig Matzdorf and Alan Grieve of the Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division in Maryland.
Sacrificial anodes are attached to marine vessels and structures to protect them from corrosion caused by the flow of electrons between metal surfaces like iron, steel, and aluminum.
Many anodes are made of alloys consisting mostly of zinc, a metal that can easily absorb the electrons flowing from the other metals, which is why mariners call anodes "zincs."
But zinc is relatively heavy, expensive, and toxic to aquatic life.