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Double Vision: Anti-Fouling – Preparing for the Future

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We present two very different views on the future of anti-fouling.
Join the debate and have your say here

While marine coatings have
developed significantly over
time, it is essential that as an
industry, we continue to evolve
as the world around us changes. The
shipping industry is currently preparing for
new regulations and legislation, such as
the International Maritime Organization’s
(IMO) Marpol Annex IV 0.5 per cent global
sulphur emissions cap, which will put
additional pressure on operating costs and
requirements.
But it does not end there, the IMO has also
committed to reducing the total annual
greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions
from commercial shipping by 50 per cent
compared with 2008 levels by 2050. This is
no small feat and will need radical changes
to operations across the board.
It is widely known across the maritime
industry that fuel consumption is greatly
influenced by the quality of the antifouling
system used; so coatings have a significant
role to play in meeting future emissions
regulations. Currently there are three
principal technologies being used to
combat fouling; antifouling paints, fouling
release coatings and fouling defence
coatings.
Antifouling paints are chemically active
coatings which act on marine organisms
by inhibiting or limiting their settlement
on a ship’s surface. Fouling release paints
are non-chemically active coatings which
prevent or reduce an organism’s adhesion
by physical means, such as through the
creation of an exceptionally smooth hull.
Fouling defence coatings, a relatively new
coating system, takes the best of both
technologies to achieve outstanding fouling
prevention by combining smoothness with
only a fraction of the active ingredients
used in the antifouling paints. Each brings
specific benefits, but only one brings us
significantly closer to meeting future
industry regulations.
Protecting our environment is
the future
Fouling defence coatings are vital elements
in the efficiency chain and can make a
significant impact in reducing operational
costs and the environmental footprint of
the vessel operator. At Hempel, with over
100 years’ experience, we pride ourselves
in delivering coatings for the future and
believe that our most advanced hull coating
to date – Hempaguard X7 – is one such
solution.
Hempaguard is the first coating to
incorporate our Actiguard technology
that took over five years to develop and is
the only paint to combine both siliconehydrogel
and advanced biocide control
in a single coating. It delivers six per cent
fuel savings compared with best-in class
antifoulings over the entire docking interval,
even if the vessel is idle for extended
periods (up to 120 days) or changes its
trading patterns. This facilitates unrivalled
flexibility in fleet utilisation.
To meet the significant environmental
challenges that we – as a society, and as an
industry – face over the coming decades,
coatings technology must build upon on
existing solutions and the understanding
that each vessel has its own requirements.
We must also recognise that shipowners
will always want effective hull coatings
that not only meet industry regulations
but which also improve their bottom line.
But time does not stand still, and we
must take steps now in order to ready
ourselves for future industry regulations.
The best approach for us all is to accept the
challenge of more stringent environmental
regulations as an opportunity to work, as an
industry, towards a shared goal
With global biofouling hotspots
intensifying as a result of
oceanic warming, the impact of
hull fouling on the profitability of
a ship’s operations will continue to generate
an indefinite commercial headache for
operators. Growing regulatory movement
against the transportation of invasive
aquatic species (IAS) by the biofouled
hulls of the international shipping fleet
is also creating a huge drive towards the
use of advanced antifouling technologies,
and will continue to do so into the future.
In certain regions, strong sanctions are
being imposed on heavily fouled ships,
resulting in port entry refusal until offending
biological hitchhikers have been removed.
On an international level, the IMO, following
its successful campaign to clamp down on
IAS transfer via ballast water, has recently
set its sights on hull fouling.
Ships laying idle in biofouling hotspots
due to economic conditions, or those
stuck in congestion at ports, act as a
magnet for barnacles and other marine
organisms. Long identified as being ‘public
enemy number one’, the hard-shelled
design of barnacles particularly creates
a huge amount of hydrodynamic drag.
Therefore, regulations that seek to restrict
ship emissions, such as the incoming
Global Sulphur Cap 2020 that will impact
bunker fuel prices as ships switch from
HFO to burning lower sulphur fuels and
alternatives, will force operators to adopt
antifouling coatings that successfully
safeguard optimum hull efficiency in an
effort to reduce bunker fuel bills.
A tricky guest to get rid of thanks to their
super strong non-soluble glue, barnacles
resist removal by cleaning techniques
deployed for soft fouling organisms such
as slimes and weeds. More abrasive
procedures are required to remove the
calcareous crust of a barnacle colony and
these practices usually result in damages
to the hull coating and great costs incurred
to the operator – again, not good for the
bottom line.
When taking all of the aforementioned
issues into account, it becomes clear that
approaches to antifouling technology use
will evolve over the next couple of decades.
Demand for antifouling coatings that
guarantee fouling prevention performance
regardless of a ship’s trading pattern,
activity and extended periods spent static
at anchor, will increase. Already coating
manufacturers are innovating, creating
advanced antifouling coatings inclusive of
novel technologies to put their products
one step ahead of competitors, to offer the
much-needed solution to biofouling.
However, the future may hold the
emergence of some new technological
innovations in the field of antifouling. Over
the next 10-20 years, paint manufacturers
are more likely to use the technology toolkit
that is already available for deployment
to futureproof the global fleet against
biofouling.
One significant solution in the antifouling
tech toolkit is I-Tech’s non-metal, organic
active agent for antifouling coatings:
Selektope. When exposed to Selektope,
barnacle larvae are repelled from the ship
hull, kept in swimming mode with a nonfatal
effect. This revolutionary bio-tech
approach to fouling prevention is controlled
by the activation of the barnacle larvae’s
octopamine receptor and is completely
unique in its application within hull
coatings.
Since I-Tech’s decision to bridge biotechnology
into the marine coatings
industry, multiple commercial products
have been launched containing Selektope.
Performance results indicate that ships
using Selektope continue to sail barnaclefree
years after initial application during
a drydocking, or after sailing out of the
shipyard. Hundreds of ships are currently
sailing under the protection of Selektope
and according to current uptake, the future
will see it become the go-to solution for
keeping ship hulls barnacle free.

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