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Prevention and detection of fouling on ship hulls

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Smart solution for tackling fouling on ship hulls

To clean ships, the marine industry uses various invasive cleaning techniques and prevention methods that are very costly and can harm the environment. An EU initiative has designed an innovative high-tech solution for reducing fouling on ship hulls.

Industrial Technologies

Biofouling, the presence of biological film that adheres to a ship's hull, causes vessels to slow down, diminishing efficiency and leading to more fuel consumption. Billions of euros are spent on cleaning these hulls – a dangerous process that involves the use of biocidal coatings that harm sea life and make their way into the food chain. The EU-funded 'Prevention and detection of fouling on ship hulls' (CLEANSHIP) project worked on better fouling prevention and removal. To achieve this, the project members used ultrasonic guided waves below the waterline to reduce fouling by repelling biomolecules and to facilitate removal. Project partners began by designing the new system and defining specifications. They then obtained hull sections to test in both cold and warm waters to model fouling prevention and detection. CLEANSHIP also developed the ultrasonic pulser-receiver for fouling detection intended for ongoing long-term monitoring. The system was successfully validated in both the laboratory and field trials at ports in Spain and the Netherlands for fouling detection and fouling prevention, respectively. The testing period exceeded 3 months, culminating in a successful demonstration. This led to a working system that is expected to improve biofouling prevention in the marine industry. It can reduce the build-up of biofouling by more than 6 weeks. CLEANSHIP introduced a novel, non-invasive and cost-effective solution for fouling prevention without needing to dry-dock ships. The shipping sector will benefit greatly from state-of-the-art technology that prevents or slows down the accumulation of fouling, and whose constant monitoring enables speedier and inexpensive removal.


Fouling, ship hulls, biofouling, fouling prevention, fouling detection

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