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A Climate Tech Startup, Inspired By Shark Skin To Reduce Drag On Planes, Bags $5.6 Million Seed Round

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A manufacturing startup taking inspiration from the streamlined design of shark skin to reduce drag on plans has raised $5.6 million in a Seed round.

The raise for MicroTau was led by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), chipping in $2 million, supported by Bill Tai and Amanda Terry of ACTAI Ventures and Bandera Capital.

The funding round will allow MicroTau to scale its manufacturing operations to supply international airlines, grow its team and qualify the biomimetic drag-reducing shark skin product for use on large commercial aircraft.

MicroTau’s manufacturing technology uses patterned light to create microscopic structures like the drag-reducing texture found on the skin of sharks. This artificial skin has the estimated potential to save US$20 billion fuel in fuel costs as well as reducing CO2 emissions by 92 million tonnes annually.

MicroTau’s CEO and founder, Henry Bilinsky said that record fuel prices have airline operators are searching for solutions to reduce fuel consumption.

“Aviation and shipping have a burning fuel problem that’s only getting worse. Over millions of years nature has developed solutions to improve efficiency, and now – with the backing of the CEFC – MicroTau will put shark skin inspired film on planes to help fight climate change.”

The venture was initially set up in response to the US Air Force’s call for novel fuel-saving technologies and Bilinksy is looking to use his skin on defence aerospace applications.

“MicroTau’s shark skin product enhances mission capabilities including range, speed, endurance, and payload capacity. We’re looking forward to continuing to develop our relationships with defence operators and manufacturers in Australia and internationally,” he said.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the startup’s design is an exciting innovation.

“The MicroTau technology has the potential to be a cost effective, scalable solution that can be retrofitted to existing transport to help minimise the carbon footprint of major transport industries.”

In addition to shark skin, the propriety manufacturing process could also replicate microscopic structures from the surfaces of other animals and plants, including adhesive gecko skin, anti-reflective moth eyes, self-cleaning lotus leaves, and anti-bacterial pitcher plants.

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