Anything inanimate, immersed in sea water, soon becomes covered in plant and animal life.

Barnacles stick to surfaces and stop valves closing and prevent other mechanisms doing their job. Weeds grow on ships hulls and slow them down. More power for a given speed so more money is spent.

For a long time special paints containg toxic compounds of tin were used. Very effective for a while. But then the environmentalists started to raise legitimate concerns. Basically, Marine Fouling is a long standing, beastly awful nuisance.

Meanwhile, a long time ago in a laboratory far far away...

There were two groups. One of the groups was trying to invent better anti fouling componds which they tested on a raft anchored in a sheltered bay. The other group was trying to develope low melting glass beads that could be incorporated into a thermoplastic. The idea was that when the plastic was heated and extruded, the glass pellets would be extended into (reinforcing) fibres.

It worked very well except for one thing : The extrudate surface started feeling sticky after a few days. Eveyone hated to touch it.

It seemed that the surface of the glass was very slightly water soluble.

A scientist not working for either group but who was naturally inquisitive and knew people from both groups wondered whether marine weed could stick to this very slowly dissolving surface.

On testing on the sea raft the test samples exceeded all the more conventional trial pieces. Nothing would grow on them.

This should have been the basis of a major product development

What the scientists did not know, was that the company was heading into financial difficulties and was systematically starving new and speculative projects of funds.

Well, nothing has much changed. We know how to make the glasses and we are going to find a partner and re-start the project.