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Eco-marine paints could prevent ship hull fouling

TWO Universities in Sweden have teamed up to develop new environmentally friendly bottom paints in order to prevent bio-fouling on ship hulls.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology have spent nine years developing the eco anti-fouling paints through a joint programme called Marine Paint.

The fouling can lead to higher fuel consumption and the spread of alien species that do not belong in the local marine environment.

It has been reported that the focus has been on a substance called medetomidine, which has been proved highly effective against barnacles, considered to be the most problematic fouling organism.

To tackle other types of fouling (such as algae, mussels, sea squirts and moss animals), the researchers have developed a concept for producing optimised combinations of different antifouling agents, or biocides.

The idea behind these optimised blends is to combine many different biocides that are effective against different fouling organisms, and adjust the balance between them to eliminate all types of fouling.

To produce the recipes for these optimised blends, the researchers have also developed a model system where they weigh the effect of different biocides on different fouling organisms against their expected environmental risk. The blends are all equally effective but offer different levels of expected environmental risk.

These optimised blends have been combined with hi-tech paint systems based on microcapsules made out of a polymer material that slowly release the biocides from the paint into the water.

Field trials of painted test panels at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences in Kristineberg have shown that the concept of optimised antifouling blends in bottom paints works very well.

Marine Paint’s research results for medetomidine have been passed to the commercial partner I- Tech AB to ensure that they are put into practise, and the product is now being marketed under the name Skeletope.

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About Charlie Kennedy

Having studied Law, English and Philosophy, I went travelling to India for 6 weeks working in orphanages and in a leper colony. I came home and decided to study Journalism. Starting my third and final year this September, I have just been given the fanta... read more