How soil bacteria can protect against corrosion in steel
The cell surface of a common soil bacteria (Streptomyces sp.) is not only hydrophobic but it protects the organism from desiccation and therefore the movement of water across the cell barrier. Swansea researchers extracted this biomaterial …

Organised by Tata Group, the Tata Innovista competition highlights and rewards innovation within research and development, right across Tata’s activity. This meant Alex’s entry was up against projects from divisions such as Tata Steel Europe, Jaguar Landrover and Tata Global Beverages.

Of the 5000 entries, 51 teams were shortlisted and represented at the final in Mumbai. Alex’s project was announced as the winner of the “Dare to Try” award, one of the twelve categories in the competition. Alex is a TATA Steel UK engineering doctorate student at Swansea University.

Her winning project was called ‘Superhydrophobic Coatings from Bacterial Proteins’. A material that is “hydrophobic” is one that repels water – in effect, waterproof. The cells of a common soil bacteria have hydrophobic properties, and Alex used these to develop her new coating.

Dr Alex Harold explained the research behind her winning project:

“We wanted to try a coating that wasn’t just inspired by nature but utilised biological components to provide a solution to…