Fouling or Biofouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae and/or animals on underwater surfaces. This growth increases over time and varies in severity depending on water quality, ecology and temperature. The biofouling or “biological fouling” causes an undesirable effect when occurring in the marine industry by reducing economy, increasing fuel consumption and in some cases causing damage to external mechanical linkages and vessel components.
The Process of Anti-Fouling
Antifouling is the process of removing and/or preventing the accumulation of this Biofouling/Fouling. There are a variety of ways to protect an underwater surface from Fouling the most commonly used is Antifoul coatings, and more recently the advent of using advanced Ultrasonic Antifouling.
Antifouling coatings are a mixture of non toxic and toxic chemicals which provide a buffer between the submerged surface and the marine environment. This coating, when containing tributyltin moiety (TBT) has been known to cause defective shell growth in some oysters and other organic organisms even when in extremely low concentrations. In some Countries the TBT substance has been banned from use in the Marine environment.
Antifoul Coating Application
The Application of Antifoul coatings is tedious, costly and messy. Requiring the Vessel to be lifted out of the water, properly prepared and properly applied/painted. This requires advanced knowledge and must be performed correctly. There are varying types of Antifoul coatings that must be used on different surfaces, IE high copper content can cause corrosion on aluminium parts and application without correct preparation and priming with compatible coatings can cause costly damage and the requirement to re-do your coatings.
Antifouling Coating Life Expectancy
The general life expectancy of a Marine antifoul coating is only between 15-18 months. It is also recommended/required to have a diver clean/scrape the hull at least once during this time frame to reduce the growth, especially when the vessel is not receiving regular use.
Ultrasonic Antifouling Explained
Ultrasonic Antifouling is the process of destroying the algae growth at a cellular level. Rupturing the cell wall of micro algae cells and other bio-fouling organisms, preventing barnacles and other Fouling organisms. We achieve this by using the entire hull to resonate a low power high frequency pressure wave that vibrates the water at a molecular level all around the submerged hull, this micro pressure wave that is formed destroys the algae and barnacles before they completely form so they don’t attach to your hull! We generate a an advanced harmonic by operating the Ultrasonic Transducer at a pre programmed sweep range of frequencies.
Put Simply, It works! A Proven Technology adapted for Your Vessel.
Ultrasonic Antifouling is not entirely new, it has been used for many years in industry to prevent bio-fouling in machine and plant equipment where contact with microorganisms, algae and similar occurs, IE power plants cooling systems and pump/irrigation equipment. It is the adaption to Marine use that is exciting, by using the hull to resonate a range of frequencies we are able to utilize a single transducer and relatively low power to prevent the growth on a hull up to 10m in length.