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FOULING Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? Fouling is the term generally used to describe the
FOULING Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? Fouling is the term generally used to describe the
FOULING
FOULING

Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling?

Fouling is the term generally used to describe the settlement and growth of marine plants and animals on submerged structures. These structures typically include ships’ hulls, piers, piling and oil rigs, but also includes the internals of pipework used to carry water as a coolant for industrial power plants.

Fouling can be classified into two broad groups:

i) Macrofouling – which includes plant (weed) and animal fouling ii) Microfouling – which includes unicellular algae and bacteria (also referred to as 'slime').

It is estimated that there are in excess of 4,000 known fouling species, all of which have the potential to colonise a submerged surface.

It is important to understand that it is not the adult species that are seeking a suitable surface on which to settle and colonise – it is their larvae. Coastal plant spores and animal larvae are initially microscopic in size and in this phase are temporary members of the plankton community. As such, they tend to move dependent upon currents, waves and tides. The length of time these larvae remain free swimming is variable depending upon how quickly they can find a suitable surface. This may range from about six weeks in the case of animal barnacle larvae to a matter of hours for larvae of some tube worms and hydroids. Such an existence is hazardous and, to ensure survival, animal fouling species can produce a large number of larvae. A single acorn barnacle, for example, can produce over 10,000 larvae in a season. Producing large numbers of offspring is also a characteristic of plant fouling. A single filament of weed is capable of producing 100,000,000 spores in

a season. These fouling organisms will endeavour to seek out a suitable submerged surface, settle and quickly grow.

out a suitable submer ged surface, settle and quickly grow. Vessels trading extensively in tropical or

Vessels trading extensively in tropical or subtropical waters are at greatest risk.

On ships hulls, fouling type, extent and severity depends upon many factors, e.g. water salinity, light, temperature, pollution and nutrient availability. The severity of fouling tends to be a seasonal phenomenon governed by geographical location e.g.:

Polar zones: <5ºC, low fouling risk. Fouling will occur for a short time period, typically either side of mid summer. Temperate zones: 5-20ºC, medium fouling risk. Fouling will occur throughout the year peaking in spring to early autumn. Tropical/sub tropical zones: 20ºC+, high fouling risk. Fouling continues throughout the year with a multiplicity of species.

Vessels trading extensively in tropical or sub tropical waters are subjected to the most severe fouling attack, particularly in more shallow, coastal waters where there is a greater abundance of light, heat and nutrients, resulting in prolific reproduction of the fouling species. Understanding where a vessel trades is important because this can identify the likely fouling challenge or fouling risk a vessel may experience in service.

can identify the likely fouling challenge or fouling risk a vessel may experience in service. www.international-marine.com

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Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? Vessels at greatest risk are those slow moving, low ac
Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? Vessels at greatest risk are those slow moving, low ac
Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? Vessels at greatest risk are those slow moving, low ac

Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling?

Vessels at greatest risk are those slow moving, low activity vessels trading extensively in tropical or sub tropical coastal waters, e.g.:

Low speed vessels <10k

Low activity vessels, 50% stationary

Locally trading coastal vessels

Faster, more active deep sea vessels are also at risk in tropical or sub tropical coastal environments

depending upon the frequency of port calls and the percentage port time. www.international-marine.com FOULING ORGANISMS

There are many different types of fouling organisms. The most common types found on ships or fixed structures are:

Animal Fouling

Barnacles Barnacles are the most commonly encountered fouling animal. Barnacle larvae are selective in their site for settlement and appear to recognise other barnacles. This results in barnacles settling close to other members of the species which aids in cross fertilisation. Barnacles live within hard calcareous shells which can adhere very tightly and can be difficult to remove. On ships, removal by underwater scrubbing or mechanical scraping typically results in a barnacle residue being left behind. This can promote further colonisation, increasing the fouling problem.

Gooseneck barnacles These animals are especially adapted for life attached to moving objects. Gooseneck barnacles are unusual in that they are not a coastal or shoreline fouling problem but can settle on moving ships’ hulls in the open ocean.

Hydroids Plant like in appearance, hydroids live in colonies and are often found on the flat bottom of vessels where they are often mistaken for algae. Due to the low light levels on flat bottom areas, however, it is a safe assumption that filamental growth on the flat bottom is likely to be a type of hydroid and not algae.

Molluscs These are animals with hard, paired shells such as mussels and oysters. Adhesion to submerged structures is relatively weak and this tends to limit settlement to stationary structures rather than on active vessels e.g. oil platforms.

Tube worms These organisms live in easily recognisable calcareous tubes which protect their soft bodies. Tube worm larvae can recognise their own species resulting in large colonies being established. They tend to settle on stationary structures or on vessels which spend a comparatively longer time in port. Animal fouling does not require light to grow and can proliferate on any area of an underwater hull, including the flat bottom.

5

area of an underwater hull, including the flat bottom. 5 Barnacles Gooseneck Barnacles Hydroids Mussels
area of an underwater hull, including the flat bottom. 5 Barnacles Gooseneck Barnacles Hydroids Mussels

Barnacles

an underwater hull, including the flat bottom. 5 Barnacles Gooseneck Barnacles Hydroids Mussels

Gooseneck Barnacles

underwater hull, including the flat bottom. 5 Barnacles Gooseneck Barnacles Hydroids Mussels www.international-marine.com

Hydroids

underwater hull, including the flat bottom. 5 Barnacles Gooseneck Barnacles Hydroids Mussels www.international-marine.com

Mussels

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Plant (Weed) Fouling Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? The most common plant fouling on ships
Plant (Weed) Fouling Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? The most common plant fouling on ships
Plant (Weed) Fouling Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling? The most common plant fouling on ships

Plant (Weed) Fouling

Coatings Technology: What Is Fouling?

The most common plant fouling on ships is the brown algae Ectocarpus spp. and the green algae Enteromorpha spp., often referred to as sea grass due to its similar appearance and colour. Polycellular algae begins with the settlement of microscopic spores. These spores can settle in seconds and colonise a submerged surface within hours. Plant fouling usually occurs where there is available sunlight, i.e. around the water line and a few metres below. It is not usually found on the flat bottom of vessels.

Slime fouling Slime on submerged surfaces is attributable to the accumulation of unicellular algae (diatoms). Difficult to control, slime has a very low surface profile and can remain adherent on ships’ hulls at speeds in excess of 30 knots.

Fouling adhesion Fouling species adhere to submerged surfaces by means of an adhesive. Initial attachment and development of the adhesive bond is a complex process. Although it has been proven that seaweed spores and certain gooseneck barnacle larvae are capable of attaching in water flows of up to 10 knots, the bulk of fouling attachment on ships’ hulls occurs when the vessel is slow moving or stationary. The vessel’s trading pattern and operational profile, i.e. speed and activity, will determine the risk of fouling and the type, extent and severity of fouling which could develop.

type, extent and severity of fouling which could develop. Tube Worms Slime: consisting of diatoms Consequence

Tube Worms

and severity of fouling which could develop. Tube Worms Slime: consisting of diatoms Consequence of fouling

Slime: consisting of diatoms

Consequence of fouling Fouling can seriously impair the operational efficiency of a ship. Fuel represents around 50% of the operating costs of the Marine Transport Industry. Annual consumption of bunker fuel of the world's fleet is estimated at 180 million tonnes, which at current prices (approx. $150/ tonne) is worth $23 billion. A very rough fouled hull can increase fuel usage by as much as 40%, although typically a 100% weed fouled hull would result in a fuel penalty of 10%. If the world's fleet didn't have effective antifouling protection an estimated extra 72 million tonnes of fuel would be burned each year. This increased fuel consumption would lead to the production and release into the environment of an estimated extra 210 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) and 5.6 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide (acid rain).

gas) and 5.6 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide (acid rain). Green Weed The most common means

Green Weed

The most common means to control fouling is through the use of antifouling paints.

Green Weed The most common means to control fouling is through the use of antifouling paints.

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