Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


BMX-11 Report Summary

Project ID: 736045

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BMX-11 (Providing Antifouling Additives for Marine Paints Inspired by Nature and Engineered for Industries)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Problem and Importance for Society
Biofouling is a natural mechanism of adhesion of marine life to any submerged structure in the sea. It not only affects the integrity of the materials, but has also a major economic impact on maritime boating and shipping activities. Global marine paint producers must ensure a final product that is able to protect the ships from biofouling. This is achieved by adding to the paints compounds that kill organisms, known as biocides, delivering a product known as antifouling paints. Currently, the use of antifouling paints prevents an extra 25% of fuel consumption of the world fleet, representing savings of €51 billion per year in energy costs . The financial impact of fouling has been quantified per vessel, showing that the increase in operations costs for a single cruise vessel can reach US$500,000 per year in areas of heavy development of fouling such as Caribbean Sea and US$350,000 to US$370,000 in areas of medium fouling such as in the water around California and the Mediterranean .
Prevention of biofouling is expensive. The global market of biocide additives for marine paints is estimated in at least €2.5 billion in 2014 (or 2,8 billion in 2016 considering updated copper prices), based only on the final cost of cuprous oxide that is currently added to marine paints. More than 90% of all antifouling paints used are based on copper products – like cuprous oxide - as the principal biocide [8]. Among other biocide compounds used, such as pesticides, cuprous oxide remains the less expensive and the most used additive in marine paints . However, rising copper price had a large impact on the marine coatings market in the last years. Since it is indexed to the metal exchange markets, it creates high price sensitiveness. Consequently paint producer companies began to absorb most of these cost increases, being forced later on to implement increases on paint prices across the market, with an increasing burden for ship and boat owners , .
Although cuprous oxide is the most widely used biocide in marine paints, it is not effective per se. Copper is not efficient against initial biofouling colonizers, such as Oceanospirillum, a motile bacterium that detoxifies copper-treated surfaces and makes them more suitable for biofouling colonization, reducing even more the surface protection . In addition, formulations with cuprous oxide alone do not protect against settlement and growth of diatoms and algae and require therefore the addition of secondary, booster biocides, such as dichlorofluanid or zinc pyrithione , . These additions increase the cost of the antifouling paints and accentuate the release of pollutants to the environment.
In addition to its financial burden, copper continuous leaching and accumulation in the oceans also causes a heavy ecological burden on marine ecosystems. Copper is a metal that induces mutations in living organisms by interfering with DNA replication. It is toxic for men and all living creatures, and its use, in marine paints or others, is considered to held unacceptable risks for users, professional or non-professionals, by the government of New Zealand . Extreme protective equipment has to be used by technical teams ensuring its application.
The increasing evidences of copper toxicity are driving present legislation to become more restrictive in terms of the use of copper in marine paints but it is highly variable among countries or even between regions/states within the same country. International legislation had already severely banned eco-toxic antifoulants, like organotins (tributyltin –TBT), from marine paints in 2008 . At that time the industry had to shift back to older solutions, such as copper, already used as sheets in roman galleys. Nowadays we are facing a similar situation with the use of copper to which there is no viable alternative in the market.
The generalized use of cuprous oxide as antifouling solution is expensive, not effective, nor environmentally safe, but remains the only possible approach, due to the lack of alternatives in the market.

Overall Objectives of the Project
In order to have a successful implementation of the Phase II BMX-11 project, we have established the following objectives: integration and stabilisation of the BMX-11 additive in commercial paint, technical roadmap for BPR registration, application of a fully optimized and integrated BMX-11, development of a business innovation plan with commercialization strategy and a financing plan in view of market launch, definition of a customer development plan, and definition of a detailed communication strategy to engage potential customers. All these to validate the BMX-11 offer for the market replication.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work perfomed during the execution of the Phase I project covered:
- Technologic feasibility study
- Market Assessment
- Business Model
- RIsk Assessment
- IP Assessment
- Work Plan for Phase II Project
- Busines Plan

The BMX-11 project responds to the topic SMEInst-08-2016-2017: Supporting SMEs efforts for the development - deployment and market replication of innovative solutions for blue growth. Our novel anti-fouling compound BMX-11 will significantly contribute to the development of the 'Blue Growth Strategy' (COM (2012) 494) in the field of marine biotechnology. BMX-11 has great and validated potential. Notwithstanding it involves a few risks as all biotechnological inventions, but will be ready to enter the market after the implementation of the SME Instrument Phase II Project.
• The SME Instrument Phase II project will allow BMX-11 to enter the market as estimated and answer to the high volume demand. Such a substantial support on the development of BMX-11 would allow BioMimetx to replace the toxic ingredients in antifouling paints and create a green solution.
• The SME Instrument Phase II investment will also enable BioMimetx to attract further investment from VC’s and business angels who expect to have company strategy and market validations before further investment.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

BMX-11 is the only anti-biofouling additive that does NOT require co-biocides, it is a perfect fit with the recent legislation on marine anti-fouling paints, BMX-11 is unique and more effective as the previous and current solutions at a lower production cost. Also in comparison with the most recent “green” biocides, BMX-11 has several competitive advantages since it combines efficacy against all three layers of biofouling.
Against copper the main advantages are:
1) Broad spectrum antifouling activity ensured by the fact the secretions of our proprietary bacterium already contains an optimized mixture of various components
2) Low production costs, because our proprietary bacterium is scaled-up by simple fermentation and standard optimized fermentation procedure being the anti-fouling mixture
3) Cost-effective alternative (lower use concentrations than copper)
4) Safer-handling (non-toxic to mammals);
5) Environmental friendly (intrinsically biodegradable); and
6) Effective in marine and freshwater-environments.

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