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WHITE PAPER EXAMINES BIOFOULING AND DECARBONISATION

WHITE PAPER EXAMINES BIOFOULING AND DECARBONISATION

Friday, October 1, 2021 

A white paper recently published by I-Tech of Sweden, maker of the antifouling agent Selektope, examines the problem of biofouling on ships while idling, particularly in warmer waters.

There are many reasons why vessels spend time stationary, such as waiting for slots in congested ports, or the lower levels of activity noted during the recent Covid-19 pandemic.  Hull fouling is particularly important at present, as it can have a significant effect on fuel consumption and emissions, which will gain prominence as IMO introduces its latest carbon indexing measures.

I-Tech CEO Philip Chaabane (pictured) said: "With the industry still facing its looming IMO GHG reduction targets and the impending introduction of EEXI and CII for existing ships, these findings should serve as a reminder that a clean hull should be the first step of a fleet’s decarbonisation strategy."

The white paper looks at why idling ships are at risk of biofouling and the impact of barnacle fouling on vessel performance. The paper is based on an I-Tech / Marine Benchmark study which reveals a substantial increase in the numbers of idling vessels over the past decade. The extent of vessels idling in so-called biofouling 'hotspots', with water temperatures above 25°C, are at particular risk of excessive hard fouling accumulation. 

According to I-Tech, ship operators need to take action to minimise environmental impact by ensuring that, after any idling, the vessel is in good condition to perform optimally. Familiarisation with the individual vessel’s risks of biofouling based on its operating footprint is a good starting point.

These issues are driving the need for high-performance, advanced antifouling technology, suited to both specific ship trading patterns and varying activity levels, in addition to protecting against both soft and hard fouling. This future-proofing approach to antifouling coating selection, without any certainty of future trade, is exerting great pressure on the coating suppliers, fostering innovation and new approaches towards fouling prevention technology using the active substance Selektope.

The study shows the adverse effect that ship hull biofouling has on hydrodynamic performance and that it gives rise to significant financial and environmental penalties for the shipping industry, due to the increase in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as impacting significantly on maintenance. High levels of biofouling could be responsible for at least 110 million tonnes of excess carbon emissions, and an additional US$ 6bn/yr fuel spend. The true figure could be higher as this fuel prices rise.

With the industry still facing its looming IMO 2050 GHG reduction targets and the impending introduction of EEXI and CII for existing ships, the study serves as a reminder that a clean hull should be the first step of a fleet’s decarbonisation strategy. Arguably, the best start point is to take a robust preventative approach concerning antifouling technology within marine coatings.

The white paper can be downloaded here.

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