Fouling control in the marine environment

  • Marine fouling build up on ships and boats causes an increase in drag and therefore fuel consumption and associated emissions of pollutants (CO2, SOX, NOX) 
  • Heavily fouled hulls may have 40% more fuel consumption than clean hulls, even slightly fouled hulls may have fuel consumption increased by around 5%
  • Numerous species settle on hulls and these can be categorized as ‘animal’, ‘weed’ or ‘slime’ 
  • While slime fouling has lesser impact on fuel consumption, it is more difficult to eradicate using current technologies
  • Biofouling is controlled on ships via “anti-fouling coatings.”  These can be divided into (a) biocidal antifoulings, that release toxic materials to kill biofouling, and (b) foul release coatings, that rely on low adhesion of biofouling such that the hydrodynamic forces acting on the fouling during ship movement lead to the fouling detaching from the vessel
  • Biocidal products make up the bulk of the market, but are subject to increasingly stringent legislation.  Organotin biocides have already been removed from the market.  Copper, a principal biocidal ingredient of coatings, is subject to legislation already and further restriction of it’s use is expected.  Legislation is limiting the materials available to the coating formulator
  • Foul release products probably represent the future of anti-fouling coatings
  • Examples of both foul release and biocidal products are sold on the basis of drag reduction compared to traditional coatings.  However, there are no coatings in the market which vendors claim have less drag than a perfectly smooth surface
  • We seek technologies that are highly effective against slime.  Slime is comprised of a mixture of microscopic species including diatoms, bacteria, fungi, viruses etc. held together(and to the surface) by an exocellular glue 
  • We seek technologies to minimise the input of biocides to the environment, while maintaining efficacy of the antifouling coating. Responsive controlled-release technologies may be of interest
  • We seek new biocides that are highly effective but have improved sustainability and can be registered (Biocidal Products Directive category 21).  Degradation to harmless materials, limited toxicity to non-target species and lack of bioaccumulation are key factors
  • We seek technologies that can be employed in coatings to significantly reduce hydrodynamic drag
  • We seek foul release technology that is effective even at low vessel speed (< 10 knots) and low activity profile (less than 20% sailing time)

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