27 Jul 2021
Humans (us) have always strived to develop technologies that make life a little or a lot easier. This technological ingenuity has undoubtedly had a major impact on the shipping community in recent years as it attempts to evolve within a society that has become more environmentally conscious.
This new world view has forced the shipping industry to relook at how they can improve their environmental performance, with new technologies ensuring vessels have a profitable and sustainable future.
Finding technological solutions for marine fouling on ship hulls has been on the shipping industry's radar for quite some time. However, with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and develop zero-emission vessels by 2030, the serious issue of biofouling – and its negative impact on sustainable solutions - is now one of the industry’s top priorities.
What is Biofouling
Biofouling is a term used to describe the gradual accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals found on the ship's hull. These invasive aquatic species (IAS) have always been a serious struggle for fleets due to interference with operations and increase in vessel drag, fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Additionally, IAS pose a substantial threat to the world’s oceans and the conservation of biodiversity. They are transported via a ship's hull, and once they reach their destination, they begin to establish a reproductive population in their new environment. The results are devastating, as they become invasive and out-compete with native species for resources, directly impacting the natural diversity of the oceanic environment.
To help combat the destructive effects of biofouling that is spread through ship hulls, the IMO, alongside the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), established the GloFouling Partnerships project
Launched in 2018, the project aims to fight the negative environmental impacts of marine fouling through implementing specific IMO Guidelines that attempt to control and manage a ship's biofouling.
These guidelines have signaled a global shift as the organisation attempts to regulate and develop an aligned approach to how these alien species should be handled and controlled. Backed by the IMO and alongside the increased pressure for fleet owners to manage their environmental impact, it has never been more pertinent to invest in technologies that seek to aid the fight against these pesky marine hijackers.
Here are a few biofouling solutions.
Marine coating systems are specialised paints that are applied to help slow the growth of invasive aquatic species. Along with keeping the ship looking good, it also serves as a protective barrier against corrosion of the hull, which improves the longevity and performance of the vessel - less repairs equals less money spent.
One of the biggest advantages of applying this coating is that it discourages and prevents the growth of these invasive marine organisms on the hull. A decrease in fouling will see a decrease in fuel consumption, subsequently lowering a ship's carbon emissions.
There have been major technological advancements when it comes to hull cleaning systems. Gone are the days when hull cleaning was limited to the use of divers with brushes/kart systems to remove attached organisms, causing more damage to the hull and the marine ecosystem in the process.
While these traditional methods do serve their purpose, HullWiper provides a diver-free, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly solution to underwater hull cleaning through the use of their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).
There are countless benefits to using HullWiper's innovative technology. Unlike conventional cleaning, HullWiper cleans up to five times faster with its brushes covering over 500m2+ per hour. This award-winning technology is also able to clean day or night and in most weather conditions. It also saves on time, as cleaning can take place while cargo or bunker fuel operations are underway.
How does the HullWiper ROV work?
An added benefit to utilising HullWiper's groundbreaking ROV is its coating-protection approach. Using adjustable seawater jets, the ROV ensures that the right amount of pressure is applied to help remove fouling without damaging antifouling coatings.
Through the use of this innovative cleaning system, HullWiper collects marine fouling from the hull, capturing and pumping the residue into a filter unit which is then deposited into dedicated drums onshore. The residue is then collected and disposed of onshore in an environmentally approved manner.
HullWiper has demonstrated innumerable times how effective this cleaning method can be when it comes to improving vessel speed. This often leads to large savings on fuel with an amount of up to 40% on a single voyage.