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U.S. Navy Wants to ‘Weaponize Slime’ to Stop Enemy Ships

Whether it’s autonomous ships with no crew or ultra-strong underwater glue inspired by mussels, the U.S. Navy has some beautiful intriguing analysis initiatives. Their newest? Weaponized slime, in a position to being fired at enemy vessels to stop them in their tracks.

The artificial slime is being created by means of a staff of researchers at Utah State University, who’ve been awarded a 15-month Navy contract to perform the paintings. It is according to the slime of an actual, eel-like creature referred to as a hagfish, which defends itself towards would-be attackers by means of using a jet of slime to fill predators’ mouths and gills with goo. This slime swells up by means of an element of a number of thousand when it comes into touch with sea water.

“We are attempting to create hagfish thread keratins synthetically,” Justin Jones, an assistant professor within the Department of Biology at Utah State University, instructed Digital Trends. “Hagfish thread keratins, in their native form, rival spider silk in their mechanical properties. The problem is that farming hagfish for these threads is likely impossible. That necessitates producing the individual proteins that comprise the thread keratin using another host system. We have chosen to produce the proteins in E. coli due to our group’s experience, the economics of scaling the process, as well as the robust amount of protein produced in this system.”

Once the slime proteins had been manufactured the usage of changed E. coli micro organism, they are going to then have to be shaped into fibers. For this, the staff will depend on their earlier revel in “wet spinning” spider silk proteins to expand one way for re-creating the hagfish thread keratin fibers. The function is to create a man-made fiber related to its local counterpart.

At provide, the U.S. Navy stops boats — comparable to the ones it suspects include smugglers — by means of firing a plastic rope with a pneumatic launcher, designed to tangle within the boat’s propeller. The hope is this new means may turn out to be more secure, simpler, and no more most probably to injure the occupants of the opposite vessel.

Before you get started getting involved concerning the imaginable polluting results of firing large quantity of slime into the water like an oil spill — sure, they’ve considered that, too.

“Hagfish thread keratins are comprised of protein and protein alone,” Jones persisted. “Therefore they do not contribute to plastic waste problems in the world’s waterways. With mechanical properties that outperform some petroleum-based polymers, they are an ideal biomaterial to use to deploy in order to stop maritime vessels without causing further pollution.”

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