New Initiative Aims to Combat Biofouling


Environmental NGO Bellona Foundation, in partnership with marine and protective coatings company Jotun, has recently launched a new initiative to define and implement a new ISO standard for proactive hull cleaning. The Clean Hull Initiative calls on regulators, shipping companies, ports, coatings manufacturers, technology and service providers, as well as academic and research institutions to focus on biofouling management.

“Biofuoling is a big problem worth solving. It is responsible for tens of millions of tons of excess emissions from shipping and is costing the industry a lot of money,” said Bellona Founder Frederic Hauge.

“Bellona wants to work together with industry and regulators to solve environmental issues on a large scale, and the CHI is a perfect example of an ideal Bellona project. Together we will seek to sort out the regulatory barriers currently in the way of solving the biofouling issue.”

Clean Hull Initiative

Biofouling, a cause of the geographical spread of invasive marine species, can cause disruptions to fisheries, coastal industries and infrastructure, reportedly estimated to run hundreds of millions of dollars each year. According to Bellona, the increased frictional drag accounts for an estimated 9% of the global shipping fleet’s fuel consumption, equating roughly to 80 million tons of CO2 emissions and $16 billion in fuel costs, based on current prices.

“We want to reduce barriers for the further uptake of emerging proactive hull cleaning technology as a preventative tool,” said CHI project manager Runa A Skarbø, urging that frequent and gentle removal of fouling, such as proactive hull cleaning or grooming, should become an essential part of biofouling management.

The foundation states that regulatory inconsistencies worldwide create a major barrier to ship owners, compounded by the lack of international regulation or standard for hull cleaning. Local biofouling and in-water cleaning (IWC) management guidelines reportedly vary widely, if they exist at all.

While Proactive cleaning is recommended in the revised draft of the IMO’s biofouling guidelines, the development of an IWC performance standard is one of the key recommendations in an IMO-commissioned report released in January.

“Developing a new standard will also drive innovation and the market for commercial proactive hull cleaning solutions. It is also a win-win for vessel owners and operators who can save money while also helping the planet,” said Skarbø.

The most common way to combat biofouling, Bellona says, is by using antifouling coatings containing biocides. While coatings alone do not prevent all biofouling, in combination with IWC or dry docking, accumulated fouling can be physically removed.

Cleaning can be proactive (fouling at early stages) or reactive (at later stages), with reactive cleaning posing a higher risk of damaging the coating and further cause release of invasive species into the marine environment. As a result, reactive cleaning is often performed with technology to capture organic debris removed from the hull.

Officially launched during Nor-Shipping on April 6, Bellona invited shipping industry and other stakeholders for presentations on biofouling management and a round table discussion. The full livestreamed event can be viewed here.

The first step will reportedly be to define the scope and outline a standard. Workshops will be held this month and in September, with a goal to submit a draft proposal to ISO in October. Skarbø reports that in 2023, a full standard will be developed, subject to approval by the relevant ISO technical committee.

According to the release, confirmed CHI stakeholder members currently include Jotun, iKnowHow, Armach Robotics, Notilo Plus, Hapag-Lloyd, Wallenius Wilhelmsen, DNV, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping, Litehauz, Port of Antwerp Bruges, LimnoMar, Endures, CleanSubSea, the University of Maryland (Alliance for Coastal Technologies and Maritime Environmental Resource Centre, ACT/MERC) and University of Strathclyde.

Jotun Hull Cleaning

Jotun announced the launch of its Hull Skating Solutions, a proactive cleaning solution for the maritime industry, in March 2020. According to the company’s press release, the HSS offers high performance antifouling, proactive condition monitoring, inspection and proactive cleaning, high end technical service and performance and service level guarantees.

Developed over several years, the robotic technology tailors to specific vessels using a proprietary algorithm and big data to accurately predict fouling development and cleaning schedules, reducing both maintenance and fuel costs.

Running on magnetic wheels equipped with electric motors for propulsion and steering, the HSS is comprised of several cameras and sensors, supporting the operator with data for navigation and documenting fouling on the ship hull.

While connected to the operator’s control center through an umbilical or working remotely through 4G coverage, the technology uses a motorized brush which can remove individual bacteria and biofilm from the hull before macro-fouling can take hold, without causing erosion or damage to the hull coating.

Depending on the size and condition of a vessel, Jotun reports that HSS can complete an inspection and proactive cleaning on a hull within 2-8 hours. Additionally, the company estimates that if all ships in challenging operations converted to HSS, carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by at least 40 million tons per year.

The first commercial contract for the HSS was signed with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA in September 2020. HSS was scheduled to be installed at GWD Guangzhou Shipyard in China later in 2020, at the same time it underwent class renewal and scrubber installation, according to the companies.

As part of the contract, MSC installed the Jotun HullSkater, which Jotun touts as the “first robotic technology that has been designed for proactive cleaning,” as well as the SeaQuantum Skate antifouling, on the 14,000 TEU MSC EVA.

In May, Jotun introduced a new proactive hull optimization program following an extensive development process.

Created to enable ship operators to improve hull efficiency, lower costs and improve environmental performance, HullKeeper reportedly combines Jotun’s extensive digital capabilities, ROV inspections and trusted analytical and technical expertise to also help operators keep fuel, inspection and cleaning costs under control.

According to the company, the four-part organization program was designed by Jotun’s team of experts to optimize hull performance, regardless of its coating system. Ship operators can take full control of their operations through hull monitoring, fouling risk alerts, inspections and advisory services.

In addition, operators can benefit from the complete package or select only the parts that work for them.

The program is grounded in Jotun’s proprietary fouling risk algorithm, supported by data from different sources to make fouling control and efficiency more predictable. By providing insight into issues before they occur, ship operators can take planned corrective actions. As more data and information accumulate, best practices can be identified and implemented across the whole fleet, the company says.

In October last year, Jotun announced that it signed a commercial agreement with marine transport company U-Ming to include its HSS in bulk carrier projects at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipyard (SWS) in China. According to the company’s press release, the HSS system will be fitted on one of U-Ming’s four LNG dual-fuel Tier III 190,000 dwt bulk carriers to be built by SWS to support the long-term charter with mining giant Anglo American.

U-Ming’s vessels are reportedly expected to be delivered throughout 2022 and 2023.

Most recently, in an article in the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings, Adam Stuchlik of Jotun introduced a new, remotely operated proactive cleaning system that can be employed to keep ship hulls clean while at port or at sea, and he outlines the potential benefits of this cleaning method.


Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Asia Pacific; Carbon footprint; Certifications and standards; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Emissions; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; ISO; Jotun; Latin America; Marine; Marine Coatings; North America; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Regulations; Ships and vessels; Z-Continents

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