EU Opens Multinational Biofouling Push


Eco-friendly marine coatings that leave slime behind are the focus of a new multimillion-dollar European Commission initiative spearheaded by AkzoNobel and the Dutch Polymer Institute.

The SEAFRONT (Synergistic Fouling Control Technologies) project aims to develop a new generation of environmentally friendly coatings that prevent the accumulation of marine organisms on boats, ships, tidal power plants and other aquatic installations. A second goal is to enhance the understanding of fouling organisms and the mechanisms of settlement and adhesion.

The SEAFRONT project will be implemented within the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission, under the Ocean of Tomorrow call.

The Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI) and AkzoNobel are the main contractors of the project, which started Jan. 16.

The total project budget is €11.2 million ($15.1 million USD), including €8 million ($10.8 million USD) from the European Commission.

Designing Coatings

DPI is the project coordinator; International Paint Ltd., a business unit of AkzoNobel, will bring any new coatings  developed within the project to the market.

The coatings will be designed to have no negative impact on the marine ecosystem, improve operational efficiency, and substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The fouling-control coatings will not leach chemical or other harmful, non-biodegradable substances into the marine environment, organizers say. Additionally, the coatings will be formulated to reduce the hydrodynamic resistance of ships and boats, thereby decreasing fuel consumption and reducing CO2 emissions.

Dutch Polymer Institute
Dutch Polymer Institute

SEAFRONT is DPI's third project within the Seventh Framework Programme. Framework Programmes are the EC's main financial tools to support research and development activities covering most scientific disciplines.

The new coatings should yield "considerable" operational savings by improving the efficiency of tidal power installations and reducing maintenance and cleaning in offshore infrastructure and aquaculture applications.

"We are very pleased with the start of SEAFRONT, the third project to be coordinated by DPI within the Seventh Framework Programme," said Jacques Joosten, managing director of DPI. "By initiating and coordinating such projects, we create added value for our current and future industrial and academic partners."

Marine Slime

The coatings research will have a special focus on gaining a better understanding of marine biofilm, or "marine slime." This effort will be led by Professor Tony Clare, an internationally renowned marine biologist from Newcastle University in the UK.

These studies will enable SEAFRONT to develop concepts and technologies for enhanced performance, with the ultimate goal being a completely non-fouling surface.

According to AkzoNobel, part of this research will build on International Paint's Intersleek 1100SR, a biocide-free fouling control coating that features patented slime-release technology to combat micro-fouling on ship hulls.

"We are both delighted and excited to be part of SEAFRONT, which provides a collaborative framework for us to innovate openly with our partners within the project," said David Williams, RD&I director of AkzoNobel Marine & Protective Coatings.

Tony Clare Newcastle University
Newcastle University

Tony Clare, a professor of marine science, will lead the research on understanding marine slime.

Focused on delivering sustainable products and solutions, the project's goals "perfectly complement the strategic ambitions of AkzoNobel," the company said.

4-Year Project

Based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, DPI is a foundation funded by Dutch industry, universities and the government. The organization was established to perform exploratory research in polymer materials.

AkzoNobel, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals.

Framework Programmes are the European Union's main financial tool to support research and development activities covering most scientific disciplines.

Five multinationals, seven small- and medium-sized enterprises, and seven research institutes throughout eight EU member states will work together to achieve SEAFRONT's goals within a four-year timeframe.


Tagged categories: AkzoNobel; Antifoulants; Coating Materials; Environmentally friendly; Europe; Marine; Marine Coatings; Polymers; Research; Shipyards

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