20 Dec 2017
HullWiper was among 230 delegates at the World Ocean Council’s (WOC) 5th “Sustainable Ocean Summit” held in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the beginning of December 2017. It brought together decision-makers from all the ocean sectors and 28 countries around the world and was the platform for the launch of the new GloFouling Partnerships Project, a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Laurance Langdon, HullWiper’s General Manager, was a keynote speaker and panellist in a special session to launch the project. He joined senior representatives from the WOC, IMO, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Jotun Performance Marine Coatings. Different aspects associated with biofouling were discussed, with each speaker focusing on a specific area such as: government guidelines & regulations; state-of-the-art trends; challenges; opportunities; and the GloFouling Project launch. Langdon talked about new technologies that keep vessel hulls clean and stop the spread of invasive species, as well as the challenges faced in introducing these solutions.
“It was an empowering event featuring a wide range of experts at the forefront of raising awareness on the state of the world’s oceans,” he says. “We were able to explore with senior leaders how industries can collaborate to work safer and better in and around the oceans.”
GloFouling Partnerships Project addresses the very serious issue of the transfer of aquatic species through biofouling (the build-up of aquatic organisms on a ship’s underwater hull and structures) which can result in the eradication of indigenous species or the spread of diseases leading to often irreversible damage that costs billions of dollars every year. The overall focus is on the implementation of the IMO 2012 Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling, and how biofouling should be controlled, and managed, to reduce the transfer of invasive marine species.
The Ballast Water Management convention, mandated by the IMO earlier this year, tackles the spread of invasive species through the treatment and control of ballast water. Different government approaches to the convention and expensive investment for vessel owners is creating practical and potential legal problems, delaying meaningful action. Ballast water contributes roughly to 25% of the invasive marine species, with biofouling on vessel hulls contributing the largest portion at approximately 60%. With such a large percentage, the need for solutions is clear. The positive side of the GloFouling project compared to the ballast water issue is that cost-effect solutions are already in place and, in some cases, arguably ahead of regulation.
Antifouling coatings, in development for many decades, are the primary protective measure to mitigate marine biofouling and surface roughness on ships’ hulls. It is estimated that the use of antifouling coatings (FOUL-X-SPEL, 2013) saves US$ 60 billion of fuel costs, 384 millions tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 3.6 million tonnes reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions.
However, antifouling coatings are not used by everyone. They are only fully effective if the vessel is constantly moving. If brushes are used to clean them, the antifouling will be scrubbed off resulting in faster regrowth of biofouling. This is where HullWiper’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology comes into play. A water jet removal system takes away the biofouling whilst preserving the antifouling coating. Adjustable water pressure ensures the right power is used for the different biofoulings. Through a unique suction control, all biofouling is taken through on-board filters to ensue no invasive species or waste is left in the ocean. The filters are then cleaned on board the accompanying launch and all matter is disposed of on shore under strict environmental control.
A heavily fouled vessel requires 40% more fuel and 76% more power to maintain optimal speed. Cleaning a vessel hull of 50,000 DwT over a 2-year period can save the owner near USD 700,000 in fuel alone. If the global shipping industry operated with clean vessel hulls, cargo emission output would be dramatically reduced and US$ 31.2 billion saved.
The GloFouling Project will officially start in mid-2018. Through direct involvement of private business partners, the implementation of regulations should be much smoother than its predecessor for ballast water. And with existing technologies continuing to improve, HullWiper foresees that it will be much easier to implement and no more expensive than today.