Antifouling and marine growth on ships and offshore installations

The maritime sector is looking for innovations to prevent fouling from colonising surfaces. On ships, fouling increases resistance, which increases fuel consumption. On floating structures, fouling may reduce the buoyancy, and fouling also impacts the endurance of materials and the effect of wave action on fixed structures. Several antifouling coatings are available on the market. However, these coatings should not be harmful for the ecosystem. Wageningen Marine Research is conducting research into the effects and contributes to the development of biological antifouling methods for ships, cooling systems, offshore platforms, and other maritime installations.

  • Antifouling voor schepen en platforms

Fouling by organisms such as barnacles and mussels on ships leads to significant resistance and increased fuel costs. To achieve the climate goals for the shipping industry, solutions are needed to combat fouling. Fouling may also lead to the spread of invasive species. This is mainly an issue for parts of the hull with an uneven surface such as the screws. Alternative antifouling approaches are especially necessary for those areas.

Effectiveness and impact of antifouling

Wageningen Marine Research is conducting research into the fouling on ships and other hard structures such as oil and gas installations at sea and on natural reefs. To achieve sustainable solutions, we also study the effectiveness and potential toxicity of different coatings that aim to prevent fouling.

In the GASDRIVE project, Wageningen University & Research is conducting research into the use of exhaust gases (CO2) to prevent fouling, as part of the aim to develop an innovative ship. The project also examines the potentially negative environmental impact of underwater-released exhaust gases. This concept may combat fouling in cooling water systems as well.

Biological antifouling

An increasing number of alternatives for antifouling are entering the market. Wageningen Marine Research is conducting research into whether biological antifouling can be used on stationary objects such as a platform. Controlled changes in the biofilm and the fouling community may contribute to the absence of intrusive growth. We can also include particular species to monitor the effect.

Our solutions

  • Knowledge about fouling on ships and maritime installations: species and communities
  • Research into the effectiveness and toxicity of different coatings
  • Research into the effectiveness and sustainability of alternative antifouling methods.

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