Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FOUL-X-SPEL — Result In Brief

Project ID: 285552
Funded under: FP7-TRANSPORT
Country: Portugal

Innovative coatings to combat biofouling

Marine biofouling is a well-known problem involving adhesion and growth of macro- and microorganisms on water-immersed surfaces that can pose a significant impediment to ship performance. EU-funded researchers developed environmentally safe biofouling prevention coatings that can also find use in bridges and other inland metallic structures in coastal areas and wet zones.
Innovative coatings to combat biofouling
Fouling of ship hulls can reduce a vessel's speed, requiring a large increase in fuel consumption to counter the added drag. Increasing the hull roughness only by 50 μm can raise fuel expenditure by 50 %. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimated that carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel consumption from shipping could increase more than twice by 2030.

Within FOUL-X-SPEL (Environmentally friendly antifouling technology to optimise the energy efficiency of ships), researchers investigated environmentally friendly coatings for ship hulls to prevent biofouling organisms from interfering with a ship's hydrodynamic performance. Previous biofouling solutions included use of toxic biocides that beyond killing organisms trying to attach to the hull also posed a threat to the wider aquatic ecosystem. Hitherto solutions based on biocide-free formulations proved to be inefficient in preventing aquatic attachment.

FOUL-X-SPEL research yielded significant progress in the development of two powerful, non-toxic protective coatings. The first one was a polyurethane-based paint containing two immobilised biocides (Econea and Irgarol), and the second one a silicone-based formulation containing immobilised Econea.

Researchers provided novel antifouling coating technology by fixing bioactive molecules (biocides) in the coating matrix to eliminate biocide discharge into the surrounding environment and also ensure long-term surface protection. The new coatings present very low friction with water and keep the vessel free from fouling for up to 90 months. In addition, they minimise the surface roughness and improve hull hydrodynamic properties.

By reducing microorganism build-up, the newly developed coatings can substantially improve ship performance and fuel efficiency, while dramatically cutting hull maintenance costs. Furthermore, they can reduce the transport of invasive species via ship hulls.

Related information




Coatings, marine biofouling, ship performance, ship hulls, antifouling, biocides
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top