DARPA Selects Teams to Build Beneficial Biofilms

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April 3, 2023 | Originally published by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on March 21, 2023

Bacteria have evolved to be everywhere, all the time. The DARPA Arcadia program is leveraging that fact to build protective biofilms, working with nature instead of fighting it. The program is focused on understanding how and why bacteria accumulate on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) assets and harnessing that information to build biofilms that can protect those very same materials from microbial degradation. Increased materiel protection could result in reduced operating costs, extended materiel lifetimes, and ultimately increase Warfighter readiness.

Microbial organisms degrade built systems and increase resource consumption in many ways. Biological organisms growing on the surface of ocean-faring vehicles, for example, increase a ship’s drag, resulting in excess fuel and energy consumption to propel the vehicles through the water. Arcadia is focused on tackling not only this biologically induced drag issue on unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) but also decreasing corrosion on in-ground fuel tanks and limiting black mold growth on stored assets.

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