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Better antifouling coatings for ships

An EU-funded consortium has designed and developed novel polymer-based composites for coating ship hulls and other marine applications.
Better antifouling coatings for ships
One of the greatest obstacles to the effective use of nano-structured carbon for reinforcing polymer matrix composites is the way it clumps together. This results in its poor dispersion throughout the matrix.

Thus, the aim of the EU-funded project CARBONCOMP (High-throughput development of carbon-polymer nanocomposites for marine applications) was to overcome this challenge by developing cost-effective novel polymers comprising nanotubes made of graphene.

Low-cost, high-purity carbon nanotubes were produced and characterised by project partners who developed techniques for preparing well-dispersed carbon-based nanocomposites. A detailed investigation of the parameters affecting each method enabled the optimum conditions to be determined for ensuring the desirable dispersibility of the nanostructures.

Optimisation of processing parameters will help to improve mechanical, electrical, thermal and biofouling properties. The most promising formulations were immersed in seawater to monitor their performance. Mechanical tests were also conducted that were in accordance with the certification procedure for coatings.

The developed coatings do not contain harmful biocides such as copper. Instead, the polymer's nanoscale fibres and needle-like carbon nanotube structures are able to easily puncture the cell walls of bacteria or prevent biofouling organisms, such as barnacles, from becoming attached to their surface.

CARBONCOMP successfully designed, developed, characterised and up-scaled novel polymer-based nanocomposites for coating marine structures and ships. It also provided important insights into nanoscale phenomena that enabled their application to other industrial sectors, thereby providing new high-level jobs.

Related information


Coatings, ships, polymer, composites, marine applications, CARBONCOMP, biofouling
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