Mango Leaves Might Be The Answer To A Global Shipping Problem

“This is a novel approach to dealing with the problem of corrosion..."

All across the globe, ships rust and corrode at an alarming rate that costs global shipping industries $2.5 trillion a year. But scientists in India may have just found a solution: mango leaves.

A compound from the leaves of a mango tree has been successfully used in a laboratory experiment to slow rust-like reactions. The leaves anti-oxidant properties could help slow the rust or corrosion of ships, and they have the added bonus of not being toxic like current synthetic solutions.

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"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.

Two Ukrainian ships showing serious signs of rust.  Shutterstock / Taras Verkhovynets

While the plant hasn't been tested in the ocean, tests in the future are already being arranged. If the mango leaf compound can successfully protect ships, it'd be a remarkable breakthrough. The cost of protecting and reworking ships is huge already, and the cost on the environment is also noteworthy. Synthetic corrosion inhibitors are expensive and harmful to the environment, QZ reported.

"Ecological awareness brought adequate innovations in the corrosion prevention technology in the last decade," authors of the study wrote. "Plant extracts are an interesting category among them, being the rich source of phytochemicals explored as corrosion inhibitors in various electrolytic media instead of toxic synthetic materials."

Cover image: Shutterstock / Piyaset

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