Persuading barnacles to stay away

A Swedish company has won one of the prestigious European Marine Engineering Awards 2016 for its innovative marine coating that encourages barnacles not to settle, with some far-reaching implications for fuel efficiency.

Gothenburg-based I-Tech was handed the DNV-GL-sponsored environmental performance award for its Selektope antifouling agent. This is an organic, non-metal compound, which features an innovative pharmacological mode of action to combat barnacle settlement, even in minute quantities. It temporarily stimulates the swimming action in barnacle larvae, deterring them from attaching themselves to a ship’s hull. It is distinguished by extremely low biocidal loading and is harmless to the marine environment.

The Environmental Performance Award, sponsored by DNV GL, celebrates the environmental benefits of a product, process or management approach and it was presented by Robert Ashdown, Secretary General of the International Association of Classification Societies at the European Marine Engineering Conference gala dinner in Amsterdam.

‘It is a great honour for the environmental performance of Selektope to be recognised by an Award that takes into account the views of an independent panel of European Marine engineering judges and a public vote,’ said I-Tech Chief Executive Philip Chaabane. ‘This is a fantastic accolade, celebrating our ten-year-plus journey from scientific breakthrough to Selektope as a fully approved and available, anti-fouling agent that acts as a repellant to barnacles attaching themselves to ship hulls.’

Initial commercial applications of marine coatings with Selektope, which is now fully approved for use by the relevant authorities in Japan, South Korea, China and Europe, took place in 2015. Following paint product launches in the Japanese market and the Korean new build market, both in 2015), Selektope is now a high volume product. Its first publicly-disclosed application took place at Sembcorp in Singapore, when a new copper-free product from Chugoku Marine Paints (CMP) was applied to the side walls of the 2010-built, 46,000dwt chemical carrier Calypso operated by Sweden's Laurin Maritime.

Tests have shown that antifouling products containing Selektope also significantly reduce fouling, lowering water resistance and potentially saving up to 40% in fuel costs, and thereby cutting ship air emissions. Selektope repels barnacles even when ships are at rest, allowing fuel saving claims made by coatings suppliers to cover the ship’s entire operational cycle.

By repelling barnacle attachment, coatings with Selektope also lower the risk of transporting invasive aquatic species from one oceanic region to another.

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