Adhesion of Microorganisms on hulls, Algae to the coated surface, is the precursor of later fixation of macro-organisms, which causes serious hydrodynamic problems.
Research and innovative developments of environmental friend surface protection is the main goal of the present project. The basic idea concerns the modification of usual hulls by providing a new antifouling coating, by fixing bioactive molecules, which can provide biocide activity, in order to avoid leaching and to promote a long-term effect of surface protection.
The new surface coating technology will by this way minimize the surface roughness and improve hydrodynamic properties of hulls.
Background and concept of the project
Marine biofouling is the result of the growth of microorganisms, plants and animals on surfacesimmersed in the natural environment. Biofouling is an ongoing problem for water-immersed structures such as ship's hulls, resulting in severe economic consequences in terms of operational and maintenance costs.
It is one of more important factor that affects the efficiency of waterborne transportation since ships consume less fuel when their hulls are clean and smooth - free from marine fouling organisms, such as barnacles, algae or molluscs.
With an estimated 300 million tonnes of bunker fuel oil consumed annually by the world's fleet there is an ever increasing focus on shipping's environmental footprint. The International Maritime Organization, IMO (2009) estimates that without corrective action and the introduction of new technologies, air emissions, due to increased bunker fuel consumption by the world shipping fleet, could increase by between 38% and 72% by 2020. It is estimated that antifouling coatings provide the shipping industry with annual fuel savings of $60 billion and reduced emissions of 384 million tonnes and 3.6 million tonnes, respectively for carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide per annum.
For this reason numerous attempts at control of biofouling have been developed. Usually, to prevent the attachment of fouling organisms the boats coated with paints, traditional based on the leakage of toxic substances (biocides) for the settlement and growth of marine organisms. These paints revealed to be effective but the continued input of such substances from the painted hulls of boats has led to reports of elevated concentrations of biocides in areas of high yachting activity, and negative effects on aquatic ecosystem and other non-target organisms have been reported. As a result, the most used active ingredients in paint formulations as antifouling agents have been regulated internationally and banned in many countries due to their severe impact. At the same time, biocide-free solutions are currently not able to effectively prevent fouling in all scenarios experienced by oceangoing shipping.
The development of an inexpensive, environmentally friendly, robust 'coating' that can minimize settlement and adhesion of marine fouling organisms on to the coated surface would be an important contribution toward solving the marine fouling problem. Therefore, there is a great need for novel coatings and material systems to combat these challenges.