The risk of marine biofouling accumulation on underwater surfaces is and always have been an economical border for shipowners, both in terms of increased fuel consumption and increased CO2 emissions. Marine biofouling can be extremely detrimental to ship performance since it increases hydrodynamic drag when a vessel sails through water, resulting in vessels burning more fuel to maintain a set speed or suffering speed losses if operating on fixed shaft power.
Some 60 delegates at the ongoing International Antifouling Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, today visited RISE test facilities SSPA Maritime Center. Delegates represent the antifouling coatings industry, ship owners and academia worldwide, and they were invited to see firsthand the towing tank, the cavitation tunnel, and the maritime dynamics laboratory.
"For our clients, the ship owners and operators at sea, marine biofouling is of uttermost importance, additional resistance will affect the bottom-line result", says Magnus Wikander, Head of Strategic Development, Maritime Hydrodynamics at RISE.
"With normal ship propulsion, normally only the fuel bill will be increased, but if you are a ship-owner planning to go green with wind propulsion, the additional resistance can lead to course deviation and a missed sailing schedule. Another case is hydrofoiling ferries and boats, for them biofouling is a show- stopper! We asked our visitors for new solutions, because the market needs them".
In the towing tank Michael Leer-Andersen, Senior Researcher in Hydrodynamics at RISE, showed the plates that are used for skin friction and marine growth testing with different surface structures and actual marine fouling.
"The resistance of the plates is measured in the towing tank", Michael told the audience." From there on the properties of the surfaces are determined and the data is used in the SSPA Skin friction data base".
The SSPA Skin friction database is a freely available tool and database which facilitates fast and reliable prediction of skin friction and increase in fuel consumption for vessels with surface roughness often seen in the maritime industry. The database is presented in an interactive manner allowing ship specific inputs along with a choice of a previously measured surface can estimate fuel increase or decrease compared to a reference surface.
The antifouling conference delegates later continued to RISE marine laboratory in Borås, to see the marine laboratory with the biocide and microplastic release rate equipment, the fire safety facilities with the marine and maritime applications, the mechanical test hall showing machines with 20MN in compression and 8 MN in tension, and the material characterization laboratory, with ToF-SIMS and equipment for characterization of materials and paint layer.
For more info on the SSPA Skin friction database, contact Michael Leer-Andersen at