UK Port Testing Antifouling Coating

MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2024

Officials in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands in the United Kingdom, recently announced that it its port will be testing a new coating to protect the hulls of its workboats, while also reducing drag and protecting the marine environment.

According to a release from the Port of Jersey, Seacoat is a clear, thin and non-biocide marine coating that can help prevent biofouling by stopping marine life from sticking to the hull, rather than by killing anything that it encounters.  

About the Coating

Seacoat manufacturer Edwards & Renouf Ltd. reportedly partnered with environmental consultancy Blue Parameters' Marine Environmental Specialists to build a new environmentally friendly marine solution in the U.K. and Channel Islands. The release states that Mark Edwards, from Edwards & Renouf Ltd., recently applied for a patent for the product.

Edwards stated that, “as a chemist I’ve worked on innovation in many different industries, and I’m passionate about the marine world. When I saw what was being painted on to the hulls of vessels every year, I thought we could come up with a better way to achieve the same objective.

“We’ve been developing this coating for more than three years. We hope it will replace traditional anti-foul which releases poisonous chemicals to prevent barnacles, mollusks and algae from fouling hulls. Our coating prevents marine life from getting a grip and sticking to the hull without the need for toxic biocides, and it also inhibits corrosion.”

According to the Edwards & Renouf website, the company’s coatings are a traditional hybrid polymer system that works by combining advanced polymers into a formula that modifies the properties of the surface at molecular level.

“It’s great that we are trialing a product with many environmental benefits, as well as offering commercial advantages,” said Sophie Roffe, head of sustainability and community value.

“The chemicals used in traditional anti-fouling are designed to shed during the season, and these layers end up in the sediment around the coast. Anything we can do to protect our marine environment, while also allowing the business to run efficiently, is something Ports of Jersey will support.”

Additionally, the mechanisms in how the coating works include:

  • The surface bound polymer layer, which chemically “hides” the surface from the organisms; and
  • The polymer barrier fence, which makes it difficult for organisms to get hold of.

The company adds that application can be performed with a paintbrush used directly on the hull, propulsion system or other underwater gear in two to three colorless coats. The company is reportedly looking into spray application but has not yet recommended that process.

According to the company, the treated surface appears slightly matte, but is “virtually invisible” on a user’s boat or equipment.

Now, the Ports of Jersey will put those coatings to the test on its own fleet of workboats.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our practices, and while it’s important to prevent fouling, if we can use a new product that does the job without leaching toxic chemicals into the sea, then that’s a win for us,” said Ports of Jersey’s Marine Operations Manager, Fleur Moisan.

Moisan further explained that for the first rounds of testing, the coating will be applied to two of the Port's workboats, with the potential to expand the trial to include other boats based on the initial results.

“We’ll initially try the product on the RIB we use for maintenance and enforcement patrols, and on one of the Marina team’s buster boats. If the trial is successful, we will expand it to other workboats. We are keen to do what we can to protect our marine environment, and this coating is commercially sustainable too," said Moisan.

“It takes a third of the time to apply as traditional anti-foul paint, and as it reduces drag there’ll be savings on fuel. So, we hope it will be a practical and environmentally friendly solution to the annual application of anti-foul.”

Other Marine Coatings Research

Earlier this year, a team of researchers at Dublin City University were studying ways to create a coating with the same texture as a specific type of fish scale, known to stop organisms from attaching themselves to marine structures.

According to a release from the university, researchers were taking inspiration from the scales of a Brill fish, a flatfish that sits motionless on the seabed yet doesn’t collect microorganisms.

Microorganisms in the sea are reportedly attracted to surfaces like ship hulls, propellers, buoys and energy platforms. When attached, they mix and form a slimy coating that can be a combination of algae, larvae and tiny worms.

The coating created by the microorganisms is referred to as biofilm and is the main cause of biofouling. Several paints have been created to try making surfaces undesirable for attachment but reportedly with little success.

The research team at DCU took inspiration from the scale pattern of the Brill fish to create a coating for the prevention of biofouling that they hope will work better than previous paints.

Professor Fiona Regan, who led the research team, stated that Brill have a specific texture on its scales, with microscopic spacings such as recesses and peaks to stop biofilm development.

The team had reportedly managed to reproduce this same texture profile in the university’s labs and was then aiming to move on to the next phase of the project.

The team reportedly chose to explore bioinspired design, by looking at how nature manages this issue. The team found that Brill have deceptively smooth skin, though its scales have microscopic peaks and recesses that may be the same dimensions, arranged in the perfect pattern, to prevent microorganisms getting the opportunity to create a biofilm.

Regan stated that the manmade material that copies the brill scales was made to be used on all underwater devices, which could be important when Ireland begins building offshore wind farms in the coming years.


Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Asia Pacific; Biocides; Bioproducts; Coating Materials; Coating Materials; Coatings; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Foul release; Latin America; Marine Coatings; North America; Port Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Protective coatings; Protective Coatings; Ships and vessels; Tanks and vessels; Z-Continents

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