Commercial antifouling for the shipping industry

Reduce fouling, fuel use, and CO2 emissions with commercial hull coatings

Some 80% of global trade by volume and over 70% by value is carried out by sea and handled through ports across the world. The global marine fleet with all its passenger ships, ro-ro vessels, fishing vessels, bulk carriers, tankers, cargo ships, container ships, and more, is traveling further and carrying more than ever before. On top of this, the maritime industry is facing a growing set of environmental regulations. When it comes to commercial antifouling, this means coatings with fewer biocides, lower VOCs, higher solids content, and a significant contribution to reduced fuel expenditure.

Coatings manufacturers have responded by  designing commercial antifouling hull coatings that increase operational efficiency, reduce the cost and impact of vessel maintenance, reduce the environmental impact of the industry, and generally improve performance and efficiency. In this article we look at the ways in which commercial hull coatings can improve the operating costs and requirements of your vessel, no matter the vessel type or region, and discuss the top products available in the UK.


How commercial antifouling hull coatings cut costs

Biofouling is the adherence and growth of sea life and organisms on the submerged areas of a vessel or structure. This buildup can increase drag, interfere with and damage outlets, pipes, propellers, and other mechanisms, spread invasive aquatic species and destroy protective coatings, so leading to other problems like corrosion. Estimates as to the amount of money fouling costs the shipping industry every year are in the billions. Using commercial antifouling coatings to prevent biofouling will:

  1. Reduce drag and reduce fuel use – When drag is reduced so is fuel consumption. The percentage of reduction varies depending on the coating, but some manufacturers claim up to 10% reductions.
  2. Extend maintenance cycles – Increasing in-service periods to up to 90 months means less maintenance and money saved.
  3. Cut dry dock expenses – Dry dock expenses include the purchase, application, and maintenance of coating systems, the cost of labour in performing these actions, and the cost of downtime. The right hull coating will reduce the time and cost associated with these purposes and keep the vessel out of dry dock for longer, reducing the maintenance costs for owners, operators, and shipyards.
  4. Increase trading flexibility and idle periods – Idle periods are a risk for biofouling as the action of the vessel through the water helps prevent buildup. New coatings however are effective even in extended idle periods, allowing for greater flexibility in trade.
  5. Increase competitiveness and efficiency – With less time hauled, greater flexibility as to idling and route, and increased fuel efficiency, commercial antifoul hull coatings improve the competitiveness and productivity of a vessel.

Calling time on CO2 emissions in the shipping industry

Commercial antifouling hull coatings are marine coatings that increase efficiency across coating processes and reduce fuel consumption

An effective hull coating improves efficiency and contributes to reducing emissions.

In 2018, the IMO adopted a strategy in line with the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This strategy aims to decarbonise the shipping sector and reduce total annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. This initial strategy comes as a response to increasing pressure and need to comply with environmental regulations and curb the damage caused by the international shipping industry.

Ship owners, ship managers, charterers and shipyards, and marine coatings manufacturers are all looking for ways to minimise their environmental footprint. High performance commercial hull coatings are an effective and simple way to immediately cut carbon emissions through fuel reduction and reduced maintenance cycles without placing more costs on ship owners and operators. Other emission-saving practices like slow steaming can also be adopted with the right coating choice.

The factors to consider when choosing antifouling hull coating

The antifouling hull coating that works for you is the one that works within all the requirements placed by region, steaming behaviours, idling periods, and more. Below are a few of the factors that you need to consider before choosing a hull coating.

  • Ease of application reduces the risk of failure
    Many coating failures are caused through problems with application. If the surface was not adequately prepared, the structure beneath was not sound, the coating was not applied within the manufacturer’s temperature and film thickness parameters, or there simply wasn’t time for the full curing period, it will lead to a costly mistake. Be aware of the time and effort every coating application will require. Drying times, particularly when you are applying a full antifouling hull coating system, will need to line up with the shifts of the shipyard to maximise efficiency and cut downtime by applying the second coating as soon as the first is dry.
  • Idle periods represent a big risk factor for fouling
    If extended idle periods are part of the operational profile for your vessel, factor this in to your hull coating choice. If the coating manufacturers do not recommend their product for idling, do not take the risk.
  • Does the coating work for slow steaming?
    If the formulation of the antifoul requires certain steaming speeds, it may not be appropriate for every vessel and purpose. With some 75% of shipping lines now adopting slow steaming, this is something to consider.
  • Does the vessel follow regular trading patterns?
    Ships operating through regular trading patterns through the same waters have a broader choice of coating options than one which has changing trading patterns that may take it into a variety of waters. More water types will need a broader range of coating properties.
  • Do the manufacturer’s coating performance claims comply with the ISO 19030 standard?
    The ISO 19030 standard outlines general principles for measuring hull and propeller performance by comparing the performance of the same ship to itself over time. This way a coating can be tested and analysed using long-term trends and key performance indicators to provide the greatest accuracy.
  • Will the vessel be entering polar waters?
    A ship operating in polar waters will need to comply with the Polar Code. Designed to protect the polar environment and the vessel, this requires abrasion resistant low friction coating designed to deal with the arctic conditions. For year round operation in ice covered polar waters many ship operators will apply an abrasion resistant, low friction ice coating with no antifouling, but intermittent operation in ice covered polar water requires both abrasion resistant and antifouling.

Our experts and coating partners are here to help you with all your commercial antifouling hull coating needs. Simply use the “Request a Quote” button and let us know the specifications of your project and we will connect you with the right hull coating for your requirements, and the best coating company for the job.


Choosing the right commercial antifouling product for your operational profile

Choosing the right antifouling hull coating is based on your vessel, operational profile and specific trading patterns. Below we have compiled three of the top commercial antifouling hull coatings for a variety of environments and requirements. For more information and to request a quote, click the link beneath this article. Our experts are here to help.

International Intercept 8500 LPP – Low friction hull coating up to 90 months in service

International’s highest-performing, deep sea biocidal antifouling coating, Intercept 8500 LPP is a self polishing, low friction hull coating featuring their patented Lubyon polymer technology to replicate the linear polishing performance of TBT coatings without the environmental concerns. Specifically designed for the deep sea market for application at both Newbuilding and Maintenance and Repair, Intercept 8500 LPP provides excellent fouling control performance and is effective for in-service periods of up to 90 months. It is particularly suitable for high fouling challenge routes such as the Arabian Gulf to South Asia.

HOW IT WORKS: The Lubyon polymer is ‘superhydrophilic’ meaning water is attracted to the surface; the same property is utilised in self-cleaning glass. What this means is that the coating createS a lubricating effect at the surface, resulting in a very smooth, low friction coating surface on immersion which reduces surface friction and drag. Intercept 8500 LPP reacts with seawater creating a constant surface active zone which releases the optimal amount of biocide over the scheme life. Biocide release is largely unaffected by seawater temperature.

Hempaguard X7 89900 – Idle periods of up to 120 days

Hempaguard X7 is an advanced high solids fouling defence coating based on Actiguard technology which combines hydrogel silicone and efficient biocide use to boost the antifouling barrier and provide extra-long protection periods. It is suitable for vessels with long service intervals of up to 90 months and/or very long idle periods of up to 120 days. It can be used for all vessels with no limitation on service speeds, including slow/ultraslow steaming and FPSOs.

HOW IT WORKS: Hydrogels consist of a polymer chain network that, instead of dissolving in water, actually absorb water to a level of more than 99 per cent. This results in a surface which minimises adhesion and is also low friction. The hydrogel microlayer creates a barrier between the solid silicone binder and the organisms that would cause fouling. When combined with biocides this coating protects the hull even if the vessel is idle for extended periods, moves slowly, or changes trading pattern.

Subsea Industries Ecospeed – Hard hull coating for polar waters

Conventional antifoul can degrade rapidly in polar ice, leaching chemicals and paint fragments due to impact damage. Subsea Industries’ Ecospeed is a hard hull coating that offers long-lasting, inert, non toxic protection for hulls that is tough and abrasion resistant, acting as a foul release coating. It can be applied at new build, or in dry dock for an in-service vessel, and is designed to last for the service life of the vessel with minimal repair and no replacement.

HOW IT WORKS: Ecospeed is a glass flake reinforced resin coating that is impermeable, impenetrable, and uses the extremely smooth surface texture to keep free from fouling, rather than any biocidal method. In polar waters it will require in water cleaning a few times a year at first, but the coating becomes smoother and smoother the foul release properties will enhance. The RRS Sir David Attenborough, currently being fitted out, will use Subsea Industries coatings to protect it while it is used by the British Antarctic Survey.


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