Nano-research breakthrough in marine coatings – StartUp from Kiel won competition in Chinain Research by FleetMon HQ
The barnacles, mussels and algae that get attached to ship’s hulls not only attack the vessel’s protective coating but also increase its flow resistance. Bio-fouling – to use the specialist term – can increase a ship’s fuel consumption by up to 40% and is estimated to cost the global shipping industry over US$150 bn a year. Currently, around 80,000 t of anti-fouling coatings are applied worldwide, with an overall bill for ship owners and operators coming to about US$4 bn a year. The problematic issue is that most marine coatings contain copper. As they get worn off, poisonous substances are released into the water. As a result, organostannic coatings have already been banned and copper-based coatings could well be prohibited in 2018.
Barnacles on a ship hull.
But here’s the good news. In collaboration with scientists from Kiel University, researchers from the Kiel-based nano-research start-up Phi-Stone has developed a solvent-free marine coating made of polythiourethane (PTU) and specially shaped ceramic particles. This innovative nano-material coating is so smooth those nasty barnacles, mussels and algae simply cannot get a grip. That means that anti-biocorrosion coatings will protect a ship’s hull much longer and any bio-fouling can simply be brushed off this ultra-smooth coating.
The magnitude of the Kiel nano-researchers’ achievement has already been recognised in China where their pioneering marine coating won the Global Marine Technology Entrepreneurship Competition 2017 in Qingdao.