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Testing the waters

As efforts to clean the world’s oceans continue, a major milestone has been reached with the help of our International paint brand.

Ambitious plans to remove vast amounts of plastic from the world’s oceans are gathering pace following the deployment of a new clean-up system prototype in the North Sea – which is protected by coatings supplied by AkzoNobel.

Developed by The Ocean Cleanup, it’s the first time that AkzoNobel’s coatings have been used during the high profile project, following the announcement of a five-year partnership earlier this year. Under the terms of the deal, the company will provide advanced, biocide-free coatings technology for all the devices and equipment used by The Ocean Cleanup for the next five years.

The technology is being tested in the North Sea ahead of scheduled operational deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in mid-2018.

Several products are being tested on the prototype to help determine which coatings system is most suitable for use on the floating clean-up systems, which are classed as a non-traditional substrate.

The coatings play a critical role by protecting the structure from fouling organisms. The floating systems will be in the water for long periods of time, and bio-fouling could potentially influence the system’s performance, as well as attracting sea life to the clean-up system.

The system itself uses U-shaped screens to channel floating plastic to a central point. The concentrated plastic can then be extracted and shipped to shore for recycling into durable products.

It’s designed to capture plastic pieces of all sizes, from one centimeter right up to massive discarded fishing nets, which can measure tens of meters. By removing the plastic while most of it is still large, it can be prevented from breaking down into dangerous micro-plastics.

AkzoNobel’s biocide-free Intersleek products are already being used to help make the shipping industry more sustainable by reducing fuel consumption, cutting emissions and lowering the costs of operation. It's estimated that the Intersleek range has helped to save $3 billion of fuel and 32 million tons of CO2 since being introduced 21 years ago.