Bio-based solutions for tomorrow

Antifouling coatings are typically applied to the ship hull below the water line in order to prevent seaweed and barnacles from sticking to the ship, which otherwise increases drag and consequently fuel consumption. More stringent environmental regulations around the world, including the ban on tributyltin by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2008, have led to the development of novel marine coatings, and, since each country imposes different standards, many regional marine coating products as well. This represents a major challenge for antifouling paint producers, as they have to spend a significant amount of time and money on research and development to cater for these legislations. Since the IMO ban on tributyltin, many alternative antifouling paints are copper-based products. However copper, even in small quantities, is believed to have a detrimental effect on fish and the marine environment in general.

One biocidal-free technology is the silicone-based foul-release technology. This technology does not use any biocides. It works by means of a non-stick surface that releases seaweed and other marine organisms when the vessel is in motion. One drawback of this technology is that it does not work on all vessels, as its effectiveness is largely dependent on the sailing pattern. Therefore it is, for example, unsuitable for yacht coatings where the vessel is idle in the marina most of the time. Apart from legislation and regulatory reasons, reducing fuel consumption and therefore operating costs is a key driver for ship owners to find a suitable antifouling solution. In addition, a greater environmental awareness drives eco-friendly anti-fouling products to reduce CO2 emissions.

Eco Innovation Project A2M

BYK-Chemie is participating in an innovation alliance, pursuing research to substitute toxic products in the antifouling paint market with a bio-based product. The initiative is sponsored by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) of the European Commission via the Eco-innovation Program. The aim of the program is to change consumption and production patterns and market the uptake of technologies, products and services to reduce our impact on the environment. The initiative was launched in March 2013 and will be financially supported by the EACI for a period of three years. 

The bio-based product prevents fouling, but does not kill the marine organisms, and does not release any hazardous biocides into the environment. It is a true research-based solution to biofouling and the research and development has been supported through various EU projects. The technology has been owned by BYK-Chemie GmbH since 2013. BYK-Chemie GmbH and its partners will work together in this project to overcome certain barriers that are currently prohibitive to a market launch, including the fulfillment of required legislation in Europe and the US. The bio-based product can be added to specific paint formulations and becomes a substitute for toxic compounds, such as copper, that are used today to prevent the growth of marine organisms on a vessel´s outer hull. This solution will be suitable for the yacht coatings market as well as the commercial shipping coatings market.

Project Updates

  • Project Meeting # 6 – 1st July 2014 (DK)
  • 2014 fouling season update meeting – 17th June 2014 (GER)
  • Project Meeting # 5 – 8th April 2014 (DK)
  • Project Meeting # 4 – 21st January 2014 (DK)
  • 2013 fouling season evaluation meeting – 22nd November, 2013 (GER)
  • Project Meeting #3 – 8th October 2013 (SWE)
  • Project Meeting # 2 – 11th June 2013 (DK)
  • WP 4/5 meeting - 19th April 2013 (DK)
  • WP 4/5 meeting – 6th March 2013 (DK)
  • Meeting with selected customer – 21st March, 2013 (GER)
  • Project Meeting # 1 (Kick-off) - 5th March, 2013 (DK)