What are the economical and ecological effects of bio fouling on ships' hulls? Which technologies are available and effective to prevent and combat hull fouling?
Marine Eco Analytics (MEA-nl) carries out research on solutions for the increasing problem of hull fouling as a vector of invasive organisms. We test hull fouling control technologies on effectiveness and their ecological impact. MEA-nl assists ship owners and shipyards to select the most appropriate hull fouling control method. This selection is based on a thorough risk analysis based on theoperational, economical and ecological impacts.
Hull fouling of (marine and brackish) bio organisms is the growth of these species on the ships' hull. Hull fouling causes a significant rise in the physical resistance under water and, consequently, results in higher fuel consumption and costs. Moreover, hull fouling is a growing international ecological problem. Attached to the ships' hull, marine organisms are introduced around the world, often thousands of miles from their natural habitats. In these new habitats, natural enemies are often absent, and consequently, the introduced species grow at an uncontrolled rate and cause unpredictable and uncontrollable effects. In some sea areas, the problem of hull fouling is even (almost) exceeding amount of invasive species introduced by ballast water:
To conclude, species introduced by hull fouling can have a huge impact on vulnerable eco systems, cause economical damage and threaten human health.
For many decades, toxic anti-fouling paints and coatings have been applied in the shipping industry. Because of their environmental and ecological impact chemical anti-fouling systems have either been regulated or prohibited. Shipyards and ship owners are actively searching for effective and environmentally safe alternatives. Within such environmental criteria, the prevention of invasive species by hull fouling is a growing priority. The overall objective is to find economical and environmental biocide free hull fouling control options that are operationally, economically ánd environmentally effective. This creates a major challenge for developers of coatings and other hull fouling control technologies. For such companies and organizations, MEA-nl is a partner in expertise and research.