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Home  > Raw materials & technologies  > Applications  > Protective & Marine coatings  > “Barnacles dig their own grave”

Monday, 16 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Applications, Protective & Marine coatings

“Barnacles dig their own grave”

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Scientists in Sweden have developed an eco-friendly method to fight barnacles on boat and ship hulls.

A new eco-friendly method to fight barnacles on boat and ship hulls has been developed

Source: Mats Hulander, Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg
A new eco-friendly method to fight barnacles on boat and ship hulls has been developed Source: Mats Hulander, Department of Chemistry and Molecula...

Barnacles can be found in all marine environments and are a major problem for both small boats and large ships. They accumulate on the hulls and can reduce the fuel economy of a vessel by up to 40 per cent, increasing CO2 emissions accordingly. A new eco-friendly method to fight the accumulation of barnacles on the hulls of boats and ships has now been developed.

About 90 per cent of the anti-fouling hull paints used today are based on copper oxide, causing large amounts of copper to be released into the seas and oceans. "This type of environmental effect cannot be accepted in the long run,” says Emiliano Pinori who invented the new method in cooperation with colleagues at the University of Gothenburg and the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in Borås.

Paint and poison are modified

With this new process, the paint and the poison are modified so that the poison is kept inside the paint, minimising the release of it into the water. Instead, the barnacle’s own ability to penetrate the paint is used. When the organisms attach to the surface, the poisoning begins. "You can say that they dig their own grave in the paint,” says Pinori.

The toxin used in the new type of paint is ivermectin – a molecule produced by the bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis. A good effect has been achieved with only one gram of ivermectin per litre of paint, or a concentration of only 0.1 per cent. The effect lasts for many years and can replace the copper currently used in hull paints. The research indicates that only very small amounts of the substance leach into the water.

Next goal: zero emissions

"My research shows that the small amounts that are released are unrelated to the effectiveness of the method. This means that if we can eliminate the leaching completely, the effect will not be sacrificed. Zero emissions will be our next goal. We’re looking forward to continuing the development of this method within the EU project LEAF, Low Emission Anti-Fouling. It’s a three-year project that SP has been granted together with Professor Elwing’s group at the University of Gothenburg and other international partners," says Pinori.

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