April 2002

From National Sea Grant College Program

Sea Grant news: Shipworms, ozone, hurricanes

Sea Grant story tip sheet

Maine Sea Grant engineers are at work on a new composite technology that could protect wooden piers and marine structures from shipworm attack. Shipworms have caused millions of dollars in damage to piers in ports and harbors worldwide. Harbormasters and wharf owners have watched the creatures turn solid wood into brittle honeycomb. University of Maine engineering professor Roberto Lopez-Anido hopes to reduce the problem by creating a fiberglass and polymer composite shield that is durable in a marine environment. Lopez-Anido and his colleagues have exposed the material to seawater, weather extremes and mechanical stresses in order to test its durability. Shipworms, also called termites of the sea, are not actually worms, but marine mollusks similar to clams. They have long, worm-like bodies with greatly reduced shells at the end. The floating larvae bore tiny holes on the surface of woody materials, and the adults use their shells to create larger tunnels inside the wood. Damage is often discovered too late to do anything except replace the infected structures. To protect and rehabilitate bearing wood piles, the new shield will be wrapped around the piling from the mud line to the high tide level. Lopez-Anido hopes his waterfront repair technology will be ready for deployment and possible commercialization in June, 2002. CONTACT: Roberto Lopez-Anido, Sea Grant Researcher, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Maine, (O) (207) 581-2119, E-mail: [email protected] URL: http://www.umeciv.maine.edu/rla/

Researchers in a North Carolina Sea Grant administered state fisheries resource research project have found a new use for ozone - enhancing seafood freshness. Scientists at the North Carolina State University Seafood Laboratory found that ozone reduces the population of common spoilage bacteria in seafood processing facilities. "We found that treating raw fish as well as processing equipment with ozone greatly reduced the bacteria that can spoil seafood," says Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant seafood technology and marketing specialist. During the study, researchers also found that ozone seemed to improve the shelf life of uncooked fish while not impacting the appearance, color, or aroma of the treated fresh fish. The ozone research showed further benefits in that by treating the air and water used in the processing plants, bacterial cross-contamination in the workplace environment was reduced as well. Robb Mairs, general manager of Hanover Sea Products, finds the results promising for dealers noting, "This will result in increased profitability in the seafood processing industry." Future studies will look at incorporating ozone in ice that is used to pack fresh fish. CONTACT: Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant, (O) (252) 222-6337, E-mail: [email protected]

Sea Grant researchers studying storm wind-pressure hope that should a hurricane hit the southeastern United States mainland this season that one of their 25 "hurricane test houses" will be in its path. A researcher team headed by Tim Reinhold, a South Carolina Sea Grant - supported professor of Civil engineering at Clemson University, has already outfitted 20 houses in Florida with wind-monitoring systems and pressure sensors - 10 on the East Coast and 10 on the Gulf of Mexico. This spring they will had five more test structures along the South Carolina coastline. This project is part of a larger study aiming to provide an engineering and cost-benefit analysis of various hurricane-mitigation measures that are most effective in reducing storm damage in coastal areas. Sea Grant researchers have already beaten, pulled and prodded 15 flood-damaged houses to test hurricane-resistant retrofits. The test houses, which ranged from brick ranches to wooden two-stories, were all damaged by Hurricane Floyd and slated for destruction in Horry County, North Carolina. Reinhold and his team of students used the opportunity to make side-by-side comparisons of retrofitted and non-retrofitted roofs and walls to determine what works best and can be installed most easily by contractors. The project provides valuable data for the National Sea Grant Technology Initiative that began in October, 2001. The initiative solicits homeowners to participate in a study that will provide free, detailed wind-risk assessments and recommend cost-effective hazard retrofitting for each house. Homeowners will then choose the best-fit improvements for their home and have them installed by local builders, with costs paid by product manufacturers and industrial partners. The results of the study should give builders, inspectors, officials and homeowners nationwide ideas for strengthening homes, and give researchers more practical exposure to the construction environment. CONTACT: Tim Reinhold, South Carolina Sea Grant Researcher, Professor of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, (O) 864-656-5941, Email: [email protected]

Sea Grant is a nationwide network of 30 university-based programs that works with coastal communities. Sea Grant research and outreach programs promote better understanding, conservation, and use of America's coastal resources. For more information about Sea Grant visit the Sea Grant Media Center Website at: www.seagrantnews.org which includes an on-line keyword searchable database of academic experts in over 30 topical areas.

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004

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