More than $5.7 billion USD is spent annually to prevent or control marine biofouling
Biofouling or ‘biological fouling’ refers to the growth and accumulation of microorganisms, algae, plants, or animals on wetted surfaces. In both fresh and saltwater environments biofouling creates inefficiencies in speed & drag, increases costs for fuel & maintenance, and can lead to erosion or corrosion of exposed surfaces.
For marine vessels, biofouling is a severe problem that can lead to hull integrity and propulsion system damage. Allowing the accumulation of biofouling on hulls increases both the hydrodynamic volume of a vessel as well as the hydrodynamic friction between the vessel’s hull and the water.
Increased drag from biofouling has been shown to decrease speeds by as much as 10%, but can lead to increased fuel consumption of as much as 40% to compensate for the lost speed. Increased fuel consumption due to biofouling also has adverse environmental effects; it is predicted to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide between 38%-72% by 2020.
For the shipping industry where fuel costs can comprise as much as 50% of marine transport costs, biofouling is a particularly damaging issue.
Traditional anti-fouling methods focus on two practices: killing the fouling-causing organisms or repelling them.
Biocides are chemical treatments which deter biological growth by killing the microorganisms responsible for biofouling. Typically, the microorganisms create what is know as a ‘biofilm’ which then allows larger creatures to attach, such as barnacles. Biocides tend to target and kill microorganisms before they create this biofilm, but the toxicity of biocides make them non-environmentally friendly. Biocide toxins can harm many marine organisms like oysters and mollusks.
Unlike biocides, repellants create a slick surface that prevents microorganisms from sticking. FoulX falls into this category. These coatings or paints rely on creating low-friction and low surface energy hulls. However, many of these products are complicated, multi-formula, multi-coat processes which make them inconvenient to use.
FoulX creates an ultra-slick surface which prevents organisms from gaining a foothold on the treated surface while maintaining simplicity: a single two-part polymer that is mixed and then applied – job done.
FoulX has an extremely long pot life compared to other polymers, yet cures in ambient temperatures in under one hour. The simplicity and user-friendliness of FoulX places it in a class of its own.